Win lose draw dice

Selling In The Past0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Proactive Prospecting Summer – Part 5

Last week in the Proactive Prospecting Summer series, we looked at how to respond to the question of “What Do You Sell”. Arguing that the response needs to align with buyer/prospect expectations, meaning the statement should be about the business outcomes achieved, not the means of achieving them. The question I usually get, and a valid one, is “Well how am I supposed to know what their objectives are or business impacts they are looking for?” Well, it may take a bit of effort, but most sales people know this better than they pretend, they just have to change a few approaches.

“Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”
Avoid Being Doomed

While most sales people nod knowingly when you say this, they fail to follow through on actually reviewing and understanding why the opportunity ended the way it did. Oddly enough, one of the most common refrains I get from sales managers is that it is not a good use of time, as opposed to the time wasted doing the same thing over and over without thought. There is some merit to the argument that if you have a lot of opportunities go in to the pipeline every month, then it does take a disproportionate time to properly review all of them. You can get the same outcome by reviewing a representative sample. If you are one of those sales that is more transactional, and say you have 50 opportunities that go into the pipeline, you can review 10 – 15 and gain all the benefit, without the fat.

The other thing you want to do is review all three outcomes, win – lose – draw (no decision). You can pretend like some do that you can get away with reviewing only wins or only losses, but you run the risk of not spotting trends early enough, and only responding to change after it bites you. You also want to make sure to review the no decisions, these will give you insights as to why the deal stalled, so you can approach it differently next time. Better yet, since they did engage, you have some understanding of what was getting them to act, and the review will tell why they stopped; as things change, these will be the first opportunities to go to, rekindle, and complete.

What Are We Looking For?

Even in organizations where they do a more thorough job reviewing outcomes, they tend to look at how they executed, important, but not what we want you to focus on. We are looking to understand objectives we have been able to help customers achieve, and more specifically, what business outcomes they realized as a result.

I spoke with a company whose business it is to do third party post mortems, and they point to the fact that in most instances sales people cannot articulate why they lost a give deal. Where sales people will point to product features, price, personalities, and similar “not my fault, did everything I could”, the reality they find over and over is different.

When prospects who chose another vendor are interviewed by a professional who is looking to understand, not rationalize, the story is entirely different. Prospects tell them they did not get the sense that rep understood their direction, place in the market, and issues they faced in their reality, not one shaped and defined by a product, and the rep’s quota.

You may ask why this is important on cold prospecting call? Well if you call and sound like the 5,000 calls before you, you are going to suffer a similar fate to 4,999 of them. Product, feature, ROI, all noise. What difference can you make to their objectives, their market share, their cost of borrowing, their cost structure, or any of the other things they were likely thinking about based on their role and objectives. Start a call with that and you increase you odds of engaging, getting an objection you can deal with, and turn an interruption into a conversation.

How Do We Do This

We use a tool called the 360 Degree Deal View, you can download it here. While it does capture the usual execution stuff, it allows you to focus on objectives broadly speaking, and then the specific underlying elements. It does so in a way that allows you to lead with objectives and outcomes, and build from there.

Next Step

Download the 360 Degree Deal View, play with it, run your last five deals through it, see what you discover. You can also visit Sales Gravy University, and enroll in the Proactive Prospecting Program, there is a complete section on why you should adopt a review process, and several segments on how to best use the 360 Degree Deal View. As you do, and you need some input or have questions, just reach out happy to help.

PPP On Demand

Learning What You Don’t Know to Win Deals – Sales eXecution 3060

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Second look

We all have deals we know we should have won, they had our name practically written on them, all we had to do was complete, yet in the end, the commission went to a rep from another company. First you need to do is dig in and understand why you won, much like you would when you win, or when the prospect takes no decision. While many do this, the findings are only as good as the answers to the questions posed allow. Meaning if you set out to review the wrong thing, you will reach the wrong conclusion, go back out and still lose the next similar deal.

The questions you pose in this review are important, but as or more important is who asks the questions. For example sending a rep back to ask why they lost the deal leads to a predictable yet useless response: PRICE. It is useless because it is usually not the case, but the most efficient way for someone to blow through the exercise. Think about it, they just made a decision they are not about to change or undo, as a result any time spent with talking reps who clearly missed the point to start with is hardly a good use of time, especially when for many, implementation and successfully delivering is often as or more risky than the purchase decision itself.

It is better to have a party not directly involved in the transaction be the one to go back in, say someone from sales ops, or better yet someone from marketing. The key is someone who can transcend “the deal”, and truly look at things from the buyer’s perspective. Going back in and asking all the product centric, “what we do, how we do it”, question, spiced with “my company” statements, will not only confirm to the buyer that they made the right decision, you will not learn anything that will help you win in the future. If you don’t think you can do this, there are companies that offer

Sending the rep in, only to hear it was price will just lead to the average rep coming back and telling you and anyone who will listen, including other reps: “I told you, we’re overpriced, that’s why we can’t close sales”. Not something that leads change and improvement moving forward.

If you are wondering what to ask about, here are two steps. First, get out of your head, your view of the world, and get into the buyer’s. Rather than thinking about what you or your company sells and more importantly why you think that, turn the telescope around and ask “what are companies trying to achieve, why, and how can they best get there; how can I contribute to that?” Sales and marketing people are often surprised how when looked at through that key hole, how badly off target they were with their questions and messaging. The other steps is know what to focus on. The simplest way to start this turnabout is to go to some of your best clients, current clients who have choice yet continue to do business with you, and ask them why they do, what they like and how that helps them achieve their objectives. You’ll find price is rarely in the top five things, and less so top three reasons. What you’ll hear about are things relating to your innovativeness in helping them achieve objectives, including R&D they benefit from, ability to understand and help their business, ease of total relationship, including issue resolution, ability to add value to their offering, and more.

Getting it right ensures more sales, more margins and winning team. This may take time and effort, but so does losing deals.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

Is It Ever A Good Time? – Sales eXchange – 14957

One common objection sales people face when making prospecting calls, is when the potentially prospect says “now is not the right time”.  While timing is important, and understanding how specific triggers can help improve your timing, the fact remains that perfecting your timing will only help you in a very (very very) small way, in a very narrow part of you potential prospect segment.  Here is why.

Timing is only important with two buyer groups, Passive, those who have realized the Status Quo no longer meets their requirements, and have decided to learn or check out “what’s out there”.  Not actively looking, but getting feelers out, looking at some web sites, information, getting acclimatized, hence Passive. The other group are those Active buyers who have decided to buy, even what to buy, is now just down to where and from whom; this is where the order takers thrive.  But together these two groups are a small part of the market, maybe 30%, but the remaining 70%, the Status Quo, timing, will by definition always be off.  As a result, you have two choices, the popular choice for many whose business cards say Sales Representative, is to avoid prospecting and fully engaging with these potential buyers; taking the advice of some questionable experts who will encourage them to “nurture”.  “After some nurturing, when they are ready, they will call you, since you stuck with them.” OK

So if you want to really change the outcome, read make more sales and generate more revenue, you need to work on the Status Quo, the 70% where you will always be too early, the 70% where other fear to tread.

The reality of timing is it will ALWAYS be either too Late or too Soon.  If they are Passive or Active buyers, it will always be too late, and if they are in Status Quo, it will always be too early, because they do not perceive a “need”, until something changes and it needs to be NOW.

That being said, it is not as difficult to overcome the challenge as some will make you believe.  First resolve to engage the entire market, including those currently removed from the market.  Because you not only know that their circumstance will change, and what may seem too early becomes, “I need it now”, but given your experience you know what is likely to be the catalyst for that change, the challenges they will face and the solution they will need to resolve it.

How?  By studying and understanding what led to that moment in the past with existing clients, prospects, and deals that did not go your way.  Once you know this, by tracking deals you’ve won, lost and those that ended in no decision.  You will understand what events led up to and caused the change, with that you can prepare, position and act.  It takes work, sometimes boring work, but with the right tools, and right approach, you can take timing and turn it your way.

By studying past outcomes and inputs, you can take proactive steps to ensure that you don’t enter the fray too late, and always capitalize on opportunities other sales people and prospects will say is too soon.

It is never the right time if you relinquish control, and always the right time if you are willing to put in the work, and ask, “is it ever the right time?”

Next Step

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Win, Lose or Draw?42

As you know, I have always encouraged sellers to review all sales in which they chose to invest time and resources.  Whether you win the deal, lose it, or if it ends in “no decision”, it makes sense to understand why for all the obvious reasons.  The latter group, “no decision”, is more important than many give it credit.  Depending on your source for data, this “no decision” group makes up a significant number of deals, and therefore consumes a significant amount time, resources, and costs related to sales.  While most stats indicate that anywhere from 28% to over 35% of B2B sales end in “no decision”, I recently saw a presentation where a credible individual stated that some 60% of deals end with the buyer taking no action at all.  Quite an bit of time and resources spent on something with no return.

Well to be accurate, no immediate return, as “no decision” outcomes can, and should be, revisited and re-engaged.  That’s the good news, the ability to learn what led to the lack of decision, how that differs from deals you lose or win, and what might it take to change the outcome.

The bad news is that many sellers mistakenly look at a “no decision” the wrong way, they see these deals as a “draw” rather than a “type” of loss, I hear things like “we didn’t win, it but we did not lose.”  But let’s be clear, if you didn’t win – you lost!  You may not have lost to a competitor, but you did lose, time, resources and most importantly lost opportunities that came and went (to other vendors) while you chased the one that didn’t happen.

One way to leverage the “no decision” deals, is to review them along with the wins and losses.  Few review all three, some review losses only, and some review wins.  By digging into all three, you will learn not just why you win or not, but specific key differences, some you can address, some like price, you really don’t want to.  BTW, if you are going to consistently review outcomes, you should assign it to someone other than the sales person who was involved in the deal.  Through no fault of their own, they never seem to get as good a response as a detached third party.  For example, if you lost the deal, the easiest and most time efficient response by the buyer is to say it was lost due to price, sales people say to themselves, “I knew it”, lick their wounds and move on without much learned.

As you look at wins and losses, you can begin to see trends and the shades of difference between wins and “no decision”, and the same with losses.  In most cases it is easier to focus on and address the increments than the big picture.  As you identify and address these things, you have the opportunity, or obligation to revisit deals that went nowhere.  The reality is that there are some cases where you and your offer were nothing more than column fodder, with the buyer having made up their mind to stay with the incumbent before the cycle even began, but need to rationalize that decision.  But there are also a good number of buyers, who can be re-engaged, resold with the new element in play, and taken to a win.  They know you, they have engaged with you, and if you demonstrate a new understanding of their situation, and demonstrate that you and your company listen and act, you can win those the second time around.  Beats feeling sorry or chalking it up as a draw!

Next Step

  • Commit to knowing and using facts to decide
  • Download our 360 Degree Deal View
  • Find someone in sales ops to take ownership of review process, if you do not have the sales op, don’t use it as an excuse, do it yourself.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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