]Are we going to win?  When will the deal close?   


If these two questions aren’t ringing in your ears, you’re not in a sales job.


All sales pursuits that go the distance reach a common crossroads.  It becomes clear that the customer is committed to buy from someone.  But:


  • You cannot be sure it’s your deal.
  • You might be leading; you may be trailing.
  • You’d kill to know where you stand.
  • Wouldn’t it be great to know how to adjust?


Oh, yes, and your organization also expects you to forecast this kind of deal. 


  • Your manager needs to forecast effectively.
  • Your factory makes decisions based on forecast demand.
  • Your professional services organization needs to schedule resources. 


So into your CRM system it goes, maybe graded as “upside.”  From here on out, each week or month you’ll hear the same questions.


Are we going to win?  When’s that deal coming in?


By far the more important issue is how to tell whether you’re winning.  Being an A-player salesperson, you naturally avoid customer turn-offs.  So you won’t ask, “When will you make a decision?”  But a different approach can help you 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. 


“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.”


What’s going on here? 


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?  


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.


If they do sit down with you, you’re in better shape.  By attending to what they 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.  Whenever I used this tactic, the customer invariably told me if we were winning.  Or coached me on what to address if we weren’t.      [Go_Live_Planning_Tool1p]

PS.  VPs of Sales appreciate nuggets from A-Player salespeople.  Alert them about our complementary research report and workshop offer.  Details, including how to register, can be found here.  One person sure to gain from improved sales strategy is YOU.




Kevin Avery

Challenges clients to design and implement innovative practices.

Prior to SBI, Kevin held leadership positions in sales, marketing, business and channel development in the high tech industry, concentrating in the Contact Center and Collaboration software.

Kevin was an A-Player salesperson who transitioned successfully into leadership. At Cisco Systems, his Enterprise Area sales team drove double-digit growth, with annual bookings exceeding $120MM. As Strategy leader for Cisco’s Contact Center and Collaboration specialist sales groups, he devised, designed and coached a competitive displacement sales program that netted over $125MM bookings with a 90% win rate and zero no-decisions. Kevin’s experience prior to Cisco at Spanlink – a packaged and custom software company and reseller-integrator – began at near-startup stage. Leading the sales team out of the company’s IPO, he grew revenues by 50%, then closed an OEM agreement with a $70M+ lifetime value. When the 2001 tech bubble burst, resulting in dissolving a $130M acquisition, he was instrumental in refitting and relaunching the company.


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