You know the situation: the buying signs are all positive and your solution is a perfect fit for their business problem. But nothing happens. You don’t lose to the competition; you lose to ‘No Decision.’ The team has brilliantly executed a sales process that is mapped to the customer’s buying process; but they cannot move the ball across the goal line. What’s wrong? The answer is the lack of a ‘Compelling Event.’
A Compelling Event has an economic owner, a defined date and is a direct response to a business pressure. The action is expected to deliver a significant business result (either improving opportunity/capability or reducing pain). The compelling event defines the reason for the economic owner to act.
Some, like sales transformation expert Lee Levitt would argue that purchase decisions are sometimes made without compelling events. Others, like knowledge management consultant Eddie Geller would argue that you can create an artificial compelling event. But neither of these means that you must simply wait for something to ignite your customer to execute the purchase. Your sales managers need to embed Compelling Event Assessments a regular part of their opportunity coaching.
Assessing the Compelling Event
At the start of every stage of the sales process, each Opportunity should be assessed to understand the Compelling Event. Should resources be added to the pursuit of this opportunity, or diverted away? What can be done to make the prospect more aware of their Compelling Event? A quick assessment answers these questions and shapes the next steps in the sales process.
Four Dimensions of Compelling Events:
- Internal Pressure: Are there any forces within the prospect organization that are driving a decision to be made?
- External Pressure: Is there pressure from shareholders, regulatory agencies, or other 3rd parties that are creating a deadline?
- Personal Impact: How does the purchase decision impact the individuals in the prospect organization? Does professional advancement depend on the outcome; or the opportunity to achieve a bonus?
- Consequences of Inaction: Are there any negative consequences of doing nothing? Are careers at risk?
Sales-Aid: The Compelling Event Assessment
To make it easier to quickly complete the assessment at each stage, a simple Sales Aid guides the coaching conversation. Download a sample CE Assessment by clicking on the image. This tool can be customized to reflect the Compelling Events that typically impact your selling opportunities. At each stage, the sales manager and sales rep quickly evaluate the opportunity. This tool provides a way to consider and rate the impact of the four dimensions: Internal, External, Personal and Inaction. Using this framework helps with decisions about how to advance the sale. If there is no CE, perhaps the Opportunity should be returned to the Lead Management program for further nurturing.
Take Action on the Assessment
What do you do with the results of the assessment? It may be possible to create a compelling event. For example, you may let the prospect know that a scarce technical resource is only available for a limited time. Instead of creating an CE, you can make the customer more aware of an upcoming change in market conditions, a change in government taxes or regulations, or a competitive move that will compel them towards a decision.
Even if you cannot create a compelling event, the assessment is still valuable because the information can improve sales performance metrics like forecast accuracy, or the duration of a sales stage. Up-to-date CRM data benefits the decision-making of the entire organization from Finance to the Supply Chain.
I am interested in your experience with Compelling Events and your methods to evaluate them. Please comment below. You can improve the effectiveness of your sales force by including the CE Assessment job aid in the opportunity coaching repertoire. Your sales process will produce greater revenue and more predictable results.