The Mighty Weak Link – Sales eXchange 16274

Most of the time in sale we focus on ensuring we connect with and sell to the key decision makers, influencers, those driving the strategy, in order to build a solid understanding of the buying organization’s objectives and capabilities to realize those objective.  We work hard to align our offering with their key business goals, and help ensure that they can realize maximum benefit, regardless of how they measure it (revenue, market share, productivity).

But we have all been in situations where we did all we had to, did it well, by the book, only to have no sale at the end, or the sale coming much much later than forecasted.  If you look back and examine these instances, what you will often find is that there were some key people overlooked and not engaged.  Not in the decision making process, but in the implementation process. 

The reality is that we are not just selling to get a decision made, but selling to have something delivered, implemented and paid for.  To be more successful you need to sell the organization not just specific people.  This cuts both ways, you need to ensure that your are engaged with everyone who can impact your success, this includes executive, middle management, users, AND implementers.  On your side it needs to include not just you, but other people/departments they will be dealing with once you have done your part.

For example, if you sell IT related solutions (software/hardware/applications) you have all faced a scenario where everything was in place, then someone in the IT group throws up the argument that they can build it better, or decide to put it so low on the priority list that you’ll likely retire before it moves far enough up the list.  What appears to be an unimportant link, undoes all the work you did to that point.

Awareness is the first step, with that in hand you can take steps to deal with it.  First and foremost, understand how and who will be responsible for implementing whatever it is you sell.  We often enquire who will “own” it, who the day-to-day administrators or users will be, but we take implementation for granted.  Find out who they are early, really early and then engage them.  Sell them on the upside to them the way you would anyone else.

One obvious question is to have them tell you about an implementation that went bad, really bad, take in the specifics, ask them how it specifically impacted them.  Most importantly ask how they would have done things differently, what the vendor should have done things differently, focus on different – not better – you want their view on things need to be done, not value judgments.   You will now be able to position your offering in a way that aligns with their views and wishes. 

The implementers can also be a great source for information about some of the business decision makers, users, and others involved in the deal.  Remember they have been through this type of thing before, they know who is mover and makes things happen, and who is all talk no results.  Great way to know who can help you move the deal forward, better, and faster.  Getting their support early may take away any reluctance or doubt from the business decision makers, knowing they will be able to get things done; by removing even a small unspoken doubt, you can move things along and gain velocity in the process.

Since you are already there, talking to all the “key” people, you may as well include everyone who can help you, or stop the deal dead, they may seem inconsequential early, they could be your eak link in the long run.  So don’t forget the guy with the screw driver.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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