Customers want to level the playing field. Your team is responding to RFPs that they have little chance of winning. You need to change course quickly to avoid the competitive blood bath. In this post we will discuss how to avoid the RFP plague.
Winning more deals at higher margins requires getting in early. To get in early requires a paradigm shift. It requires transformational thinking versus taking the easy path of what worked yesterday.
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Moving upstream is what we call “selling in the orange” (see visual below). Selling in the orange involves influencing the buyer before a rep is present. It necessitates a shift in your sales strategy. It is much more difficult than selling in the white space shown below. Selling in the white space is becoming less effective each day. If you sell in the orange you will win more deals at better prices.
3 Steps to Develop a Sales Strategy to Sell the Orange 1. Target (Account Segmentation)
Who is your customer? If you can’t provide an ultra-specific answer, you don’t know. Get your best resources focused on those that will spend the most. The output is a clear understanding of market potential. Now you know where to focus resources. Each sales person will have a prioritized list of potential customers.
Develop buyer process maps to get inside the mind of these customers. Without them you are just hoping your message “sticks”. After you do this, you have accomplished three critical elements.
- Demand Generation efforts are focused on the best prospects and customers. Your message will resonate and resources will be applied effectively.
- Your sales team is focused on the best opportunities. How much time does your team spend trying to sell to people that aren’t a fit? Great sales people eject from opportunities quickly that they can’t sell. Poor sales people hold on and waste time. Make the decision easy for them.
- Sellers are aligned with the buyer and speak to their needs. Your team will know who the buyer is and what they care about. Focusing on specific buyer behaviors brings a lot of clarity to sales campaigns.
2. Prospect (Lead Generation)
Selling in the Orange requires different methods to get access. You have to approach your customer differently than the competition. Social selling is one method that will bridge the lead gap. The best part about social selling is your sales team owns it. Great content is also a key component to selling in the Orange. Develop a process to produce and refresh great buyer focused content. Develop a process to qualify leads and nurture them until they are sales ready.
3. Convert (Sales Process)
Leads are worthless if they aren’t converted to revenue. You can’t convert consistently without aligning your sales process to the buyer’s. In the early phases of the buying process you have to bring insight. This insight must be tied to a tangible business wins for the buyer. Get the buyer’s attention early, or you will be relegated to the “white space”. The white space is a competitive battlefield with little chance of victory.
If your team sells primarily in the white space, you won’t get consistent results. You will be reliant on winning the big deal to Make the Number. Ultimately you will lose market share because the white space continues to shrink.