Sales Leaders often focus their energies on one person – the Account Executive (AE). This is a huge mistake. This article will discuss why your focus needs to extend beyond the AE. At times, other team members are to blame for lost deals.
When Lost Sales aren’t the AE’s fault
Sales can be a complicated game. There are lots of variables to consider, both internal and external. Especially during lengthy selling cycles, everything needs to be aligned. Winning in today’s complex selling arena is a team effort. Do you have an “A” team? Really think about each team member and assess them.
Don’t believe me? Let me share with you what I experienced on a recent sales call:
The VP-Sales relayed this scenario to me in disbelief. He was irate, and rightfully so. Before the meeting, every aspect of a monster deal had been perfectly aligned. The customer was primed. The only thing left was for the Solution Consultant to demonstrate product value. As you can probably guess, he failed to do so. This was the route he opted for instead (0% of which I recommend):
- Meeting set between customer, Account Exec (AE), and Solution Consultant (SC).
- SC goes dark for 7 days (yes, an entire week) leading up to the meeting
- The AE even emailed the SC the day before to remind him about the meeting. The AE also reminded SC about technical requirements for the presentation.
- SC is woefully unprepared. In fact, he finished the presentation in the lobby before the meeting.
- The meeting begins with a 40-minute delay. Why? The SC ignored emails about technical requirements. A 4-minute delay is extremely embarrassing and reflects poorly on your organization. Now multiply that by 10.
- The presentation was boring, generic, and had multiple errors. For example, the date on slide #1 was wrong.
- SC’s unpreparedness resulted in him contradicting himself during the presentation
- SC spoke with inward-out focus. Instead of focusing on client needs, SC focused on the product.
- SC was unable to answer questions. He couldn’t provide the level of detail the customer wanted. This is a major problem when you’re introduced as the product expert.
You probably know without me telling you that this meeting was a complete failure. Perhaps the worst part about this scenario is that the AE did everything right. He was stuck with the SC, because the SC was the expert. The AE needed him to help sell the customer on the product. Instead, the SC dropped the ball. As a result, everyone loses.
How to Win the Big Deal
You can obviously do without your team emulating this scenario. Take these steps to uncover where problems lie within the sales process. This could be with strategies or team members. Some things you can do include:
- Deep Sales Process Deal Review: Hold regular meetings with everyone involved in the sales process. It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply getting updates from the AEs. If the VP-Sales had spoken with everyone, he would’ve known the SC was unprepared. As a result, the situation would have been rectified beforehand. The deal could have been salvaged. Need more insights? 5 Ways to Measure if Your Sales Process is Working
- Own it: You need to own the biggest deals in each quarter. By this, I mean you need to be involved throughout the entire sales cycle. As VP-Sales, anything that will significantly affect your number should be on your radar. Thorough monitoring and review will help you win these big deals. What type of Big Deal Review format do you use?
- Talent Assessment: This last step will take some effort. Each member of your team needs to play a crucial role. Have you created role-specific Scorecards? Have you determined the competencies required to be successful? One weak link can bring the whole deal crumbling down. As a result, each member should be hired with a very critical eye. You don’t rush into hiring AEs or VP-Sales. Why rush into anyone else? Here is a great post on hiring. It’s got great tips on assembling a killer sales team from top to bottom.
Make sure you are prepared. Don’t let this quarter’s big deal slip through your fingers.
When you’re an industry leader, you must hit on all cylinders. You can’t make big gaffes (ie: letting executives sit around for an hour while your sales team tries to figure out how to work the internet). If you do, you’re number will suffer. When your number suffers, it’s you who has to answer for it.
Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure you’re thoroughly engaged in each step of the sales process.