By Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
I think (hope ) it is safe to say that every seller, especially B2B, has a Plan A. A road map or process for how they plan to engage with a buyer, and work with them to mutually navigate the buy and sale process to arrive at a mutually beneficial situation, each party attaining their objectives. Having said that, I still see many who wing it.
What surprises me is the number of sales people or organizations who have a game plan or playbook, that is totally one dimensional in nature. It starts by completing a pastel coloured sheet, same info, same way, every time; some have a Plan B, they go to it based on the push back to Plan A. Now this would not be a big problem if you are selling a commodity, in what can be described as a “binary” sale, but it is an absolute killer if you are selling anything that involves more than a price decision.
Rather than using a “plan” or playbook approach, it is more effective to use a mind map approach. This allows you to evolve with the buyer as you uncover facts, opportunities and aspirations. You can use Plan A to engage, and begin the process, but as each client is different (in big or small ways) you need to adapt rather than try to get the client to fit the plan or playbook.
The way to achieve this is to commit to two basic disciplines. First, is to commit to reviewing all sales transactions you are involved in, whether you won them or not. This will allow you to anticipate broad and narrow trends, and adjust your game in real time. Think of this like watching the game tapes.
To support this, you need to adopt the practice of follow through questions, not question, but questions. Most sellers tend to stay narrow and shallow, they hear something that sounds like what they need to hear, and they go with it. But if you develop the skill to ask several layers of “impact questions”, you not only get to the root of the opportunity, but differentiate yourself from those who stop at the surface or layer two. Combined these give you the grounding to go beyond what you practiced with on the nice coloured sheet, while not meandering, because in the end you still need to bring home the revenue.Discipline is one thing, rigidity is another, this is why we introduce the concept of fluidity. Visually it may be easiest to think of this approach as a three dimensional “Sales Mind Map”. It forces you to think, anticipate and respond based on client input, while leveraging market and sales experience. It allows you to not only have a Plan A, Plan B, but a method for having options that may take you to Plan Z, all based on the buyer’s objectives and requirements.
What’s in Your Pipeline?