Some steps are so important that there is a significant risk that the entire opportunity will go up in smoke if it is not handled correctly. World class sales organizations specifically identify these crucial steps in their sales process and they call them by a name like ‘Major Interaction’. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year. 

 

Does your sales process make a distinction between the ordinary steps of the sale and the extraordinary ones? Why does this make a difference? In the B2B selling environment, here’s what you need to know. The characteristics of a Major Interaction (MI) include:

 

  • Each MI is clearly identified in the Sales Process
  • The selling team’s responsibilities are well-defined
  • There are no more than 1 or 2 per Stage
  • The MI is a mandatory coaching opportunity for the manager
  • A Call Plan is always used to prepare for an MI
  • Marketing creates specific resources for each MI

     

Poor Major Interaction Execution Kills Deals

 

In Stage 1 of most sales processes there are two critical major interactions that happen when the sales team first meets with the Influencer or Decision Maker, and later when the sales rep gains agreement with the buyer on the next steps of the buying process. If either one of these two interactions are executed poorly, the deal will die right here in Stage 1. Many deals never progress beyond Stage 1 precisely because the activities were not recognized as Major Interactions.  The event is then poorly planned as the sales rep wings it, and the result is a failure to help the customer advance to the exit criteria for the stage.

 

Coach to Improve Deal Survival

 

It is critical to improve the yield of early stage deals in order to fill the later stages of the pipeline. This is the time when reps can benefit most from coaching by sales managers. Together, the manager and rep plan and execute a successful outcome. This is a learning experience for the rep that transfers the skills of the manager and builds a foundation of repeatable early-stage practices. Unlike most managers who jump in at critical points in the late stages to heroically close the deal, the early MI’s provide managers with a platform that has a lasting value in developing the skills of the team.

 

Cross the Chasm between Sales and Marketing

 

One of the side benefits of planning for Major Interactions is that it gives Marketing a clear role in the sales process. Without a specific MI in mind, Marketing creates a general-purpose set of customer-facing collateral materials that describe the value proposition, competitive advantages, and business benefits of the proposed solutions. These often take the form of a 30 page PowerPoint slide deck that contains a broad array of ideas relevant to make the buying decision. The rep selects a dozen positioning slides; the sales engineer selects another dozen technical slides and they are ready to pitch a solution to the customer. This is a grossly ineffective way to work. The message is delivered clumsily at best, since it was cobbled together by sales reps and engineers who are not skilled at the art of messaging.  

 

Once identified in the sales process, Major Interactions provide the Marketing team with a brief list of specific events that require customer-facing collateral material to move the customer through the buying process. With clearly defined exit criteria associated with each Major Interaction, Marketing can develop highly targeted messages that consistently achieve the required result.

 

Examples of these key client-facing events include:

 

      • Introductory Meeting
      • Needs Analysis Meeting
      • Discovery Review and Results Meeting
      • Product Demonstration Meeting
      • High Level Solution Discussion
      • Solution Outline Meeting
      • Proposal delivery meeting

         

The end result of focusing on MI’s is that Marketing receives clear instructions for collateral content, and Sales receives resources that perform a specific function extremely effectively. To aid in building the right message at the right time, the specifications for each MI collateral can be defined in a hand-off document. Download the Major Interaction Marketing Request to use for your own planning purposes.

 

I would like to hear your comments about how your sales process leverages MIs. They are critical steps in the sales process and they offer a unique opportunity to build a bridge today between Marketing and Sales

 

Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is a Revenue Growth Diagnostic tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:

 

  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job

     

Sales Revenue Growth

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Maloney

Works with clients to improve sales force effectiveness and reduce customer acquisition cost and increase customer lifetime value.

Prior to joining SBI, Tom was the Vice President of Sales Operations for the Uniform Services Division at ARAMARK. He was also Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a recycling and waste collection organization and spent over 15 years in the petroleum industry with Atlantic Richfield and Texaco. He brings significant expertise in sales, marketing and operations leadership. Tom also has changed legacy sales organizations, turned around underperforming departments and consistently built high performance teams in both sales and marketing. He develops customer loyalty marketing campaigns that improve customer retention, reduce client turnover costs, and increase year-over-year sales. He has built multi-million dollar strategic partnerships and business building programs with most major US-based consumer products companies

Tom has earned multiple awards, some of which include: Univator Award for innovation, Super Star President’s Award, The Greatest Piece of Marketing Content Award.

Read full bio >