Labels matter, they drive attitudes, and attitudes drive action, and sales is all about action and execution. How you label an opportunity will dictate your actions, results, and success. This presents a bit of challenge for sales people, they regularly label opportunities, usually to reflect where they are in the cycle, and to help them determine which actions need to be executed to move the sale forward to a very awkwardly labelled the sale, the “close”.
While it is easy to understand why “close” may make sense, having completed the “on-boarding” of a new customer, that phase is closed, and we move on to the next. Unfortunately many “defined sales processes” have no rules or definitions beyond that initial commitment. Some organizations have policies in place for client coverage and minimal contact, they are rarely part and parcel of “sales process”, which is peculiar, as most the value clients derive from the relationship happens after the “close”, most of the opportunities to differentiate yourself from the competition, to fully address the clients’ needs are delivered after the close.
Consciously or unconsciously, as soon as an opportunity is “closed”, sellers’ attitudes change, this even more so the case if you are a “hunter” rather than a “farmer”. While they are proud of the accomplishment, “hunters” turn to the next kill. They don’t necessarily abandon the recently closed customers, but more like placing them on a shelf or a trophy case with all the deserved pride of accomplishment. But once on the shelf, they do not get the same attention as those opportunities in the early stages of the sales cycle.
As soon as a prospect is closed, we seem to show them a different level of love, or energy than we did when that same prospect was a fresh new lead. We “unwrap” the lead with all the anticipation and wonder of a new toy at Christmas, the one we wanted all year, only find that toy occupy it’s place on the heap of “last year’s wonders”, as we turn our attention and effort to the next “new thing”.
This is further driven by companies’ need to find and secure new sources of revenue, and managers driving the focus on new opportunities. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you ensure that existing clients, new clients, get the level of attention needed to satisfy them, help them realize value and in turn secure value/revenue for your company.
Attitude is clearly part of it, how you view that client based on the label you place on them. Extending the notion of “sales process” to include the buying process, and the client satisfaction/retention process; after all, everyone agrees that is cheaper to maintain a revenue stream than to find a new one. One easy way to deal with this is to change one label that changes attitudes and outcomes: think of “client life cycles”, rather than limiting yourself to “sales cycles” or “sales process”. This will allow you to bring and deliver the same level of energy and love to a client as you did when you were just courting them as a prospect.
- Develop specific “steps of your process” for post “close” activity
- Allocate time to the extended cycle
- Enjoy the increased revenue
What’s in Your Pipeline?