One piece of advice many pundits, especially motivational types, offer up to sales people, noticeably more this time of year than towards the end, when they change their tune, is “Don’t give up”, or the right wing version, “Never give up.” Often giving example of people who persevered against all odds and finally delivered an invention that now stands the test of time. I recently watched one of bubbly bundles of energy preach at a sales kick off, wax poetic about winners never give up, and find a way to “get it done”. The unsaid implication I guess being that if you do move on before “it is done”, you are not a winner, but a loser.
To accentuate his point, he trudged out old Thomas Edison and his lightbulb. “Edison experimented with over 100 different creations before finally inventing what we know as the light bulb, we’d may still be in the dark if not for Edison not giving up.” Well not quite, Edison did not invent the lightbulb, that event preceded his by some 50 years. Further, Edison did not have quota tied to the end of the year. When was the last time you had an open ended sales quota? “Just go out there and sell, and if it takes you three years to hit that number, don’t worry, just keep going, don’t give up.” Exactly!
What makes some sales people better than others is their ability to disqualify and focus their time and other resources on not just delivering results, but delivering in a given time frame, and on a consistent level. While we all know about Edison’s accomplishments, consistency may not have been one of them.
Start by understanding your quota, and what it will take to get there. Continuously study why you are winning deals, why some are lost, and why some don’t go to decision, (in the current cycle, they may when things change). Our clients leverage our 360 Degree Deal View. This will help you quantify your efforts, and focus on those opportunities that will help you get to quota. Qualifying is great, but at times it ignores those things that can slow down or kill a deal, because we look only for things that make it a fit. The reality is that if your close ratio is 4:1, the quicker you disqualify the three that will not close, the more time you have to focus on the one that will, and time to prospect for the next set of four. Yes, you will need to replace all four if you are going to get your next deal.
The reality is many of today’s losses or abandoned deals turn out to be your best deals next year, especially the no decision ones. There are many factors that delay or prevent a deal from closing now, just read The Challenger Customer, none of which will be easily overcome by “not giving up”.
As with many things, it is a question of perspective, “giving up” or disqualifying just sounds negative, fair enough. How about we look at it as staying focused and being distracted from delivering quota this year and every year, not whenever.