Are we going to win the giant deal? When will the giant deal close? If these two questions aren’t ringing in your ears, you’re not in a sales leadership role.
All sales pursuits that go the distance reach a common crossroads. It becomes clear that the customer is committed to buy from someone. But:
- Your team cannot be sure it’s your deal.
- You might be leading; you may be trailing.
- You’d kill to know where you stand.
Oh, and your team needs to forecast these kinds of deals.
- Your CEO needs you to forecast effectively.
- Your operations team makes decisions based on forecast demand.
- Your professional services organization needs to schedule resources.
So into your CRM system goes all these deals with various forecasts. From here on out, each week or month you’ll hear the same questions.
Are we going to win the giant deal? When’s that giant deal coming in?
By far the more important issue is how to tell whether you’re winning. A-player sales people naturally avoid customer turn-offs. So they won’t ask, “When will you make a decision?” But a different approach can help your team ferret this out and forecast better, too.
We sellers care about award date, but the customer doesn’t. What IS important to them? The “go-live” date.
Here’s how to use the Go Live Planning Tool to get a better handle on the entire decision process.
The conversation goes something like this: “I know you’re not ready to choose a supplier yet. But your chosen vendor will do better for you if they’re ready. In case it’s us, can we work backward from your target go live date? We can use our planning tool that takes about 10 minutes. If it’s useful, you can use it with other vendors, too.”
You show your customer that your focus is helping them succeed. Ever seen “hurry up and wait” turn into “hurry up and hurry?” That puts their project at risk. So help them make sure they leave enough time for low-pressure implementation. What could be more inoffensive than that? To go deeper, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to the sales strategy section and flip to the Sales Process phase on pages 279 – 281 of the PDF workbook.
If they won’t take you up on this offer, you’re probably losing. That knowledge alone is valuable, even if unwelcome, because you can still act. Sales operations may even think about making the completion of this sales aid as a buyer-driven exit criteria of the sales process.
If the prospect sits down with your sales rep to complete the exercise, then you can have confidence that you’re in better shape. By attending to what your prospects care about, you get what you want. You may even find the exercise makes them accelerate their process.
Here’s the bonus. Working shoulder to shoulder creates intimacy with your sales force. Whenever I personally used this tactic, the customer invariably told me if we were winning. Or coached me on what to address if we weren’t.
Consider bringing your sales leaders into The Studio to evaluate your sales process with myself and a team of experts in Dallas. The Studio is SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio typically results in getting 3 months of work done in 3 days. The immersive sessions accelerate everything, dramatically reducing the time it takes to diagnose a problem, develop a solution, and create an implementation plan.