Every successful small business should be focused on improving sales. Developing a sales strategy can not only help you to focus your efforts on your most important customers, existing or potential, it can assist you in working smarter to close more deals.
Every salesperson, you and your team, has made the mistake of prematurely getting involved in seemingly promising sales opportunities only to end up frustrated, confused and worst of all – losing the sale. Possibly you may have even won the sale — at margins and commissions that would have paid more had you been working at McDonalds. We’ve all been there!
The truth is, not every sales opportunity is going to be an ideal fit for your business.
Therefore, to succeed in sales you need to know when to fish or cut bait. In fact, top salespeople develop a keen sense of their situation and spend precious selling time on the deals with high probability closing odds. They grasp whether the sale has potential for a timely win-win and allocate resources accordingly.
So, when you’re deciding the value of an existing or potential sales opportunity consider the following:
1. What kind of pain does your customer have?
Prospects must have business initiatives that result in challenges or gaps requiring a “fix” that you can jointly discover to increase your odds of winning the sale. These latent “pains” are always the most deserving ones to pursue – those which you can help a prospect identify and quantify.
Many salespeople mistakenly prospect looking to find live deals. But often, engagement for already “active” pains comes too late in the client’s procurement process for you to successfully win. You may end up spending a lot of cycles as column fodder in a bidding exercise for a solution created by a competitor.
2. Are you in contact with the right people?
If you can’t get direct access to decision makers, think again. Spending valuable time with a prospect only to be denied a seat at the decision making table is foolhardy. Be sure early on that you have or can negotiate access to the people who actually commit funding and have the ultimate authority to choose a vendor.
3. Do you offer a unique value proposition?
If your client has commoditized the solution, or your competitor clearly has an edge, rethink your strategy and further engagement. When vendor selection comes down strictly to price and the client sees no value in your offering, it may be better to opt out early in the selling cycle – or spend as little resources and time as possible with the deal.
Let your competitors play the price game and whittle their margins down to nothing in the process. Understand your company’s sweet spot so you don’t waste selling time with those who don’t.
4. Are you in control of the sales process?
If your prospect is “getting” with no “give” it may be time for you to move on. Creating and engaging in opportunities where you clearly act versus react will greatly increase the odds of closing a sale.
Your time is money and resources are costly, so be sure you put your energy into deals that can be positioned favorably and ultimately closed. Sometimes, it may be best to exit and find another opportunity where you can play a central role in joint discovery of the client solution, create distinct value, connect with decision makers and manage the sales cycle.
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Photo: Massimo Dutti
Ann Marie Heidingsfelder is a sales performance & leadership coach that helps companies that want engaged, high-impact sales teams to create outstanding revenue and profitability growth. With 22 years of Fortune 100 and award winning sales success in the trenches of technology and healthcare finance, she now helps sales professionals at all levels turn more prospects into clients, increase deal velocity and improve sales activities and effectiveness. Ann-Marie holds an MBA, is a certified coach and a member of the Northern California HR Association, Sales Management Association and International Coach Federation. Take her free 5 Minute Sales Skills Assessment to discover if you are at the top of your selling game!
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