Bad Guys - How We Lost This Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 13:02 PM

lost-the-deal

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Lost deals, as well as sales calls and sales meetings that go south, make up a huge portion of our coaching calls with clients and their salespeople.  After all, everyone can learn a lot more from what went wrong than they can from what went right.  We also coach clients and their salespeople on how to win the deals that are currently in the later stages of their pipelines.  They tend to be overly optimistic, so for a dose of reality, we always ask about what could possibly go wrong.  They rarely know what could go wrong, so we help them out and introduce them to a long list of possibilities.

Today, Murphy's Law made a rare appearance at our company.  My favorite law from Murphy is, "Beauty is only skin deep. Ugly goes straight to the bone." Unfortunately, that wasn't the law that appeared.  Of course, it was, "If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong."  Here's what happened...Last week, we received a verbal go ahead from the CEO of a company and a formal agreement was to be signed today.  There didn't seem to be anything that could derail this deal and in addition, they had tremendous urgency to get started.  They knew they needed help and in my opinion, things were even worse than what they thought.

Last week, they were very excited about what we could do to help and couldn't wait to get started.  We were talking with both the Chairman and the CEO, so we couldn't have gone any higher in the company.  We are uniquely qualified to provide the very specific help that they required in both the short and long term and there was terrific alignment on both sides of the table.

Blindsided

Today, we learned that they were going with another company due to the relationships that two of their outside investors had with the competitor.

Wait a minute...what outside investors?  Isn't the chairman the outside investor?

How did we miss that?  

In an action adventure novel, there is never only one bad guy trying to kill the hero; there are always at least two!  And the mastermind never sends just one team of bad guys, he always sends a backup team just in case his first team fails.  

Remember this!!  It doesn't matter whether we are talking about bad guys or outside investors.  There are always at least two!!

It turns out that there are more than two more outside investors.  Would knowing that last week have changed anything?  Maybe.  We could have asked if the outside investors would have input.  We could have asked to include them in the conversation.  We could have asked if they knew anybody in our business.  We could have asked what would happen if they wanted to work with someone they had personal experience with.  We could have sold them on working with us.  We could have done more than we did.

The Lesson

In professional sales, there is a qualified opportunity and then there is thoroughly qualified opportunity.  On the opportunity in question, we substituted qualified for thoroughly qualified.  It does not help to know that our version of qualified is still at least 10 times more qualified than what the typical salesperson calls qualified.  Does-not-matter-one-bit.  If you miss something, whether or not you should have known about it, you still missed it.  If something catches you by surprise after the fact, you still missed it.  If a new competitor, a new stakeholder, a new issue, a new budget, or even a new time line comes up at the 12th hour, you still missed it.

It's our job to know everything.  We failed because we didn't do our job.

There is yet another way to lose a deal and that's by losing control of your emotions.  Read this article on the Hubspot Blog for more.

Join me for one of the following free presentations coming up in the next couple of weeks:

February 19 at Noon Eastern: How to Hire Your Next Salesperson presented by TAB.

February 26 at 11 AM Eastern: The Magic Behind OMG's Legendary Sales Candidate Assessments presented by Objective Management Group

March 5 at 9 AM Eastern: The Power of Sales Process and Pipeline Management/CRM presented by Membrain and Kurlan & Associates

Finally, the latest issue of Top Sales World Magazine is available today.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales qualification, reaching decision makers, lost sale, lost deal, outside investors

The Next 'Can't Miss' Game Changer for Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 09, 2015 @ 14:01 PM

game_changer

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Another game changer?  After so many in the last 5 years?  It's coming - no doubt about it.  I'll give you the background and tell you why this incredible tool will be the one to supercharge your sales.

Today, Social Selling (like blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter and others) is all the rage.  Experts are evangelizing these tools, touting their power to connect, and providing training on how to best use them.  And they're all correct about these tools.  Every seller should be using them, but therein lies the problem.

Soon, every seller will be using them!

Would you like to start blogging?  Good luck finding your audience from among the more than 2 million articles that were posted - not in the last 5 years, not last year, not last month, not this month to date - but more than 2 million posts today alone!  It's a very difficult time to start blogging.

Would you like to start sharing articles, asking questions, and commenting on LinkedIn or Twitter?  How will your tweets, comments and shares be noticed above the noise from all of the salespeople who have begun to do that?

Would you like to host webinars, or send a weekly or monthly newsletter?  How will you get people to read those when they are routinely barraged with hundreds of useless emails each day?

Would you like to have your own YouTube channel?  There are 4 billion YouTube views per day - that's a lot of people watching videos, but how can you possibly get their attention when there are millions of YouTube channels for them to watch?

Yes, friends, Social Selling certainly works - and can work well - for the people who already have well-established audiences and followings.  I'm fortunate enough to have an award-winning Blog with a nice loyal readership and get lots of organic traffic from Google searches.  A late start in any Social Selling channel may cause you to become very discouraged.

But there is hope!

I know of a tool that works better than everything I have mentioned so far.  While it doesn't have the power to reach as many people in as short a time as Social Selling, or as I prefer to call it, Personal Marketing, it is much more effective for targeting and reaching specific prospects.  Not only that, the communication is in real time, with no latency, lagging, or delayed response times.  Doesn't that bode well for having a real, rather than digital, conversation?

Even better, if you are an early, rather than late, adopter of this game-changing approach, you'll be one of the only salespeople using it, and unlike Personal Marketing, there won't be any noise!

Are you ready?

As has been the case for the better part of the past 30 years, I am way ahead of the curve on this.  Would you like to know about it?

I have become aware of a tool that allows you to reach any prospect, anywhere, at any time, without even knowing their email address, twitter handle, or public LinkedIn page!  There is no limit to the number of characters, length of message, or size of content.  Your prospect can respond to you as easily as you can reach out to them and the technology is readily available to anyone who wants to avail themselves of it.  And the best news?  It's covered by nearly all of your existing subscriptions and fees.  Doesn't that sound awesome?

It gets better.  Email, InMail and Twitter messages don't always convey how you wanted to sound and can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted.  Not so with this technology.  

Introducing the Tool of the Future

Today, I would like to be the first to introduce you to the sales tool of the future.  A Direct Line of Communication to any prospect in the world.

You may have seen this tool before, but you may have to use it in a way that is different from how it was intended.  Today, most people use these devices to send text messages, tweets, emails and upload photos and videos.  But if you poke around enough, you will find that manufacturers actually included a nicely hidden feature that allows you to punch in about 10 digits and you can actually speak - LIVE - to anyone - anywhere - on demand.  It is SO COOL!  And the device will remember those numbers so that you don't have to punch them all in again.  Amazing.

cell_phone

Copyright:  123RF Stock Photo

Free Demo!

And for a limited time, I can provide you with a demo of how this works.

Go to your device, find the application called PHONE, and tap the following 10 digits in the field provided:  800-221-6337.  Press the green button.  You will hear a sound to indicate that you have initiated an attempt to reach me.  There is a very good chance that a live person from Objective Management Group will answer your very first ping.  I'm going to provide you with a promo code that will give you direct access to me.  When they answer, say, "Dave Kurlan, please" and the live person will actually reroute your ping directly to me!  And if I'm speaking live with someone else at that moment, I have a digital clone that will answer and you can tell my clone exactly what you wanted to tell me, leave any kind of message you want, and I can actually listen to it later and return your ping.  It's truly amazing, friends, and will revolutionize the way selling takes place in the future.

I'll bet that you're thinking that this entire article is a joke - that I wrote it with tongue-in-cheek.  Wrong.  I am dead serious.  Do you know how many phone calls I received today?  One.  Nobody uses the phone anymore and that's what makes the phone such a perfect and obvious choice for building your pipeline and accelerating sales growth.  Web-based tools are awesome for marketing and generating interest, but most of us have to sell!  And trust me when I tell you this:

It is a lot easier and much more powerful to sell on the phone, via video conference and face-to-face than it is hiding behind your computer screen.

Please take advantage of my limited time offer to demo this new technology.  Try it for yourself!  Call me now - 800-221-6337 ext 212.  Remember the promo code: Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales tips, social selling, lead generation, game changer

Key Sales Strategies for December

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 07:12 AM

snowmen

Copyright mreco99 / 123RF Stock Photo

It's hard to believe that it's December already.  It seems like only yesterday that I made my annual reposting of one of my most popular articles of all time - a terrific holiday article that is worth a read even if you read it each of the previous 4 Decembers.

Top 3 Lessons from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker

Does that resonate for you in December?  All year long?  Every day?

So let's discuss December sales strategies.  What can you do to assure that December (a short month with only 17 business days) as well as the 4th quarter and the year finish - all have a strong finish?

You won't like my answer at all, but it's the truth.  

Not. Much.  

About the only thing you can do in December that will benefit the month of December, the quarter and the year is to make sure that the truly closable, qualified, and forecasted opportunities actually close.  If you pull out all the stops, but do it with opportunities that are not truly closable (in December), you run the risk of alienating your prospects.  This is where it is so important to know the difference between what you consider closable, and what your prospects consider closable.  How do you know?  At some point, they told you that you will get this done in December and you have a meeting or call scheduled to do just that.  If that hasn't occurred, then in all likelihood, you are guessing that you can close these opportunities in December.

Some companies need to spend their money this month or they risk losing it.  Do you know which of your opportunities are in that situation?  Those companies will buy from somebody this month - do you know whether or not it will be from you?  Again, you would know because you would have learned that as you qualified them, not because you have a good feeling about it - a guess by any other name.

There are some things that you can do this month, that will have a tremendous impact....on next year....

Most salespeople spend their December days trying to close deals, sending cards, delivering wine, chocolate, fruit baskets, nuts, pretzels and special gifts.  While important, minimal time should be devoted to those things.  Instead, salespeople should be filling their pipelines, scheduling January meetings, and assuring that the 1st quarter of next year is strong.

How can you get prospects on the phone in December?  This is a great month to use a service like ConnectAndSell, which provides up to 8x the conversations that reps get by dialing on their own.  Instead of wasting all of their time dialing and not connecting with anyone, salespeople actually spend their entire calling session speaking with their prospects.  It's very efficient, powerful and useful!  And when you find out how helpful it is in December, you'll want to use it year-round for pipeline building.  Whether it's inside or outside salespeople that do the calling, maximizing your call time in December will be the one thing that will guarantee a strong start to next year.  

There is also an emotional component to December.  Many of us will be on well-earned breaks, staycations, vacations and trips between Christmas and New Years.  There are four possible outcomes for December: 

  1. You closed the forecasted business and built a strong pipeline for next year.
  2. You closed the forecasted business, but failed to build a strong pipeline for next year.
  3. You failed to close the forecasted business, but built a strong pipeline for next year.
  4. You failed to close the forecasted business and failed to build a strong pipeline for next year.

The outomce you end the year with will determine your mental state for not only your time off, but for when you return.   How would you like to be feeling?  Would you like to kick back and relax during your vacation or sulk around, beating yourself up for blowing it?  How would you like to feel when you return on January 2?  Do you want to be energized or still feeling the effects of screwing it up in December?

Close what you can close today, but your emphasis in December must be on building for the near future.

Top performing companies have higher win rates, shorter sales cycles and stronger revenue growth.  Learn what they do differently by downloading my newest White Paper, The Modern Science Behind Sales Force Excellence.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, Closing Sales, accurate sales forecast

Why Prospects Don't Buy From You Today!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 14:10 PM

world Series 2014

Did you watch any of the 2014 World Series?

I watched a few pitches of Game 6 and I'm a baseball guy!  Why so little?  I was watching Jake Peavy give it his all, trying to hold things together, and thought to myself, "Why am I watching this?  I don't care about either of these two teams.  I'm not engaged."  I'm guessing that if you're not a Giants or Royals fan, you may not have seen too much of this World Series either.  I do plan to watch Game 7 - as long as it keeps me engaged.

Engagement.  There is a huge connection between what I experienced with the World Series, and what prospects experience with salespeople.  If you can understand and apply this analogy it will make a huge difference in the quality of your calls and meetings.  Here are the four most important things for you to know.

Think back to the last time you were a prospect - for something - anything.  Other than a shiny new car or your next home, were you excited?  Really excited?  Were you anxious to talk with a salesperson about long distance or VoiP, insurance, payroll, shipping, a new machine, software, office furniture, computers, legal and accounting, landscaping, seal-coating your driveway, a fence, an industry-specific tool or device, anything?

No, of course not.

So, it stands to reason that your prospects aren't all that excited about meeting with you or your salespeople either.  That helps to explain all of the cancellations and postponements that so many salespeople experience!  The prospects will meet if they have to - if they need to - but not because they are simply interested.  Even that is interesting.  You know they need to meet, but they aren't admitting that.  So, you ask why they wanted to meet and they explain that they are "investigating other options, exploring what's available, or curious about your capabilities."  But, if you know that they are meeting with you because they need what you have, you can push back.  You can say, "Most people are too busy to meet with me unless there is something they were really hoping I could help with.  In your case, what would that be?"

Making this situation a bit more challenging is that salespeople get really excited about talking to, meeting with and presenting to their new prospects.  The reality is that there is a huge lack of alignment in the levels of excitement between salespeople and prospects.  So, how can you get them as excited as you are about discussing and showing them what you have?

It's not easy, but you can do this if you can help them solve a business problem.  At the same time, that's the exact mistake that so many salespeople are making.  They start by trying to demonstrate that they can solve a business problem.   I know.  I sound like I'm contradicting myself even though I'm not.  What I'm saying is, you can't demonstrate your ability to solve their business problem until they have admitted that they have a business problem!  This can't occur until after they have:

  • Told you about the issues that contribute to their business problem,
  • Told you about the business, personal, emotional and financial impact or consequences of their business problem,
  • Quantified the cost of this problem if it's left unresolved, and
  • Expressed their desire to accept your help.

You still need to qualify them.

My favorite Qualification Articles are: 

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Don't Qualify Effectively

Top 10 Reasons Salespeople Struggle to Get Decisions

Top 10 Criteria for a Qualified Sales Presentation

Then, and only then, is it appropriate to demonstrate how you can solve their business problem.  Then, they will be as excited as you are.  Then, they will be ready to buy.  Then, they will take action.

How can you make the transition from demonstrating your product, to demonstrating your ability to solve a business problem, to doing that only after having learned about their desire to get your help?

I'll be honest with you.  It's not easy.  It involves learning to master the art of Consultative Selling, and specifically, how to listen and ask follow-up questions the right way.  For most salespeople, that takes 8 months of training from someone who actually knows what they're doing.  And not many sales trainers and coaches have the ability to teach this the right way.  It is a very elite group!

Prospects will get as excited as you when you learn how to get them excited - not by doing demos and presentations, but by asking enough good, tough, timely questions to learn about them and their business issues.  Then you'll know they are saying, "Wow, she really gets it.  I want to work with her!"

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, Closing Sales, sales presentation, sales qualifying, Jake Peavy

My Top 21 Keys to Help Your Sales Force Dominate Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 08, 2014 @ 07:07 AM

dominateI've seen this happen in youth baseball so many times.  Let's say it's a ground ball and the third baseman boots it for an error.  Of course, the next ball is hit right at the third baseman again and this time he fields it cleanly, but makes an error on the throw.  And just as if it were programmed to happen, the third baseman is suddenly a target, balls coming at him and him alone, as he appears helpless and unable to make a clean play to put a merciful end to an inning.  You could say he has been busy, but not very successful.

Are there sales versions of this?  Do you have salespeople who are busy, but struggling to succeed?  Do you have salespeople who are putting in long hours, but don't generate enough business in relation to the time invested?  Do you have salespeople who find enough opportunities, but struggle to get them closed?  In my experience, there isn't a correlation between busy and successful.  Oh sure, successful salespeople may be busy and busy salespeople might be successful, but one being true does not necessarily mean that the other is true as well. 

An example of a successful, but not necessarily busy salesperson, would be the one whose two whale-sized deals generated three times more business than the rest of the sales force combined.  I'm not saying she didn't work hard to land those two huge accounts, but she can't be as busy as the salesperson who sold 80% less to 50 new accounts.  In the process, our rock star salesperson reset the bar for what would now be considered successful, automatically making salesperson #2, with his 50 new accounts, unsuccessful, despite how hard he worked and how busy he was.  Everything is relative.

Here are my top 5 examples of salespeople who are busy, but not very successful:

  1. They spend long hours researching companies and prospects, reach out on LinkedIn, send InMails, emails and make calls, but have few takers for meetings.
  2. They spend long hours making cold calls, reach very few people, and most of those people are completely disinterested in talking or meeting.
  3. They find a few opportunities and spend hours writing and delivering proposals, presenting, following up and chasing closable prospects with little to show for it.
  4. They spend a lot of time calling on and visiting accounts with great potential, who are doing business with your competition, but have very little success capturing that business for you.
  5. They attend every networking event they can, participate in networking groups, invest a lot of time talking each day with people in their network, but rarely get introduced to a quality opportunity.  Everyone knows them, but people aren't buying from them.

What can we do about the salespeople who are so busy, but have so little to show for their effort?

First and foremost, we must determine whether there is hope for them.  Can they be saved?  Can they be trained to do things more effectively or, if necessary, in a completely different way?  Can they be coached up or not?

Don't rush to an answer.  The two mistakes that so many executives make are:

  1. The belief that their hardworking, but unsuccessful salespeople can be saved.  They remain hopeful, but without any science on which to base their hope.
  2. The belief that their unsuccessful salespeople cannot be saved.  They give up, but don't make changes.

Statistically, about 30% of the 1831614 salespeople who Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated, aren't trainable.  Some of those are successful salespeople, but if we look only at the unsuccessful salespeople, or the bottom 74%, we'll see that some of them can be saved.  The magic is being able to identify which ones.  Let's say that you have 10 salespeople and 2 of them are A players.  You have 2 B players and you have 6 C's.  When the science can show you which of the 6 can be saved, trained and coached up to be A players, and which can mercifully be replaced with A players, you have the power to completely transform your sales force in one year's time.

 
  evals
 

After evaluating, it's helpful to make sure that these salespeople are following the guidelines for where they should be spending their time, how much time should be spent there, and how to do those things more efficiently and effectively.  This is sales infrastructure, or systems and processes.

Next comes training, and how to follow a customized, milestone-centric sales process that will steer them in the right direction, advance them on the path, govern their time, and help them disqualify those who will not buy.  Additionally, they must learn to have the conversations that make today's salespeople successful.  For those with difficulty at the top of the funnel, we would need to emphasize strategies to improve engagement and tonality.  For those having difficulty at the bottom of the funnel, we would need to emphasize the multiple strategies and milestones that precede closing and how the conversation changes along the way.

Along with evaluating, recruiting and training, sales managers must be trained and coached to support the training in such a way that they can coach to it and hold salespeople accountable to executing it.  Nothing changes without effective sales managers spending half of their time coaching and growing their salespeople and impacting their opportunities!

  Sales Leadership Intensive

Don't mistake busy for smart.

Don't mistake effort for commitment.

Don't mistake proposals for effectiveness.

Here are My Top 21 Keys to Help Your Sales Force Dominate Today:

To succeed in today's world of selling, you must have (1) smart, (2) motivated, (3) savvy, (4) well-trained and coached sales managers, (5) committed to spending most of their time (6) coaching (7) smart, (8) motivated, (9) savvy, (10) well-trained and coached salespeople. They in turn must approach selling in a (11) strategic, (12) social, (13) relationship-based, (14) milestone-centric way, with an emphasis on the (15) conversation, an eye on (16) quantification and (17) qualification, and a (18) commitment to getting their opportunities closed in an (19) efficient, (20) pleasant, and (21) helpful way.

Image Credit Lightspring via Shutterstock.com

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, selling tips, Closing Sales, keys to sales success, relationship based selling, social selling

Top 4 Reasons Salespeople Struggle to Reach Decision Makers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 @ 05:10 AM

Bodyguad with uziThree separate, but related, incidents occurred this week, all having to do with reaching decision makers.

First, I received a cold call that went like this:

"Hi Mr. Kurlan, this is [name withheld] from [huge company name withheld]. We're a company that.....oh no - the script disappeared from my computer. I...I...can't talk to you without following the script.  Bye."

First off, the Mr. Kurlan thing is like fingernails on a chalkboard - I can't stand it and never will.  About the only time it doesn't bother me is when my Korean dry cleaner sees me and says, "Oh, Mista Kuelahn, hah ah you?"  That makes me chuckle.

Second, the Mr. Kurlan thing again.  It tells me before he says another word that he doesn't know me.  If he did he would call me Dave.

Third, the Mr. Kurlan thing yet again.  It tells me that he doesn't think he is at the same level as me, shouldn't really be talking with me and can't speak my language.

I don't even have to provide commentary about what happened with his computer and script. I do know that there isn't a CEO anywhere that would have listened for even 5 seconds if he had started reading from a script!

Okay, so that's the first incident.  The same day, I was asked about a salesperson at a client's company.  The Objective Management Group (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment said that he would have difficulty calling on Senior Executives and, of course, he was struggling.  When asked what they could tell him, I said this:

  • Intellectually, he needs to know how crucial this is for his success.
  • Conceptually, he needs to know that he can reach senior decision makers.
  • Belief-wise, he needs to know he belongs with senior decision makers.
  • Practically speaking, he needs to learn the strategies and tactics for how to consistently reach senior decision makers.

Incident number three:  Yesterday, I received an email announcing the results of a survey conducted by the cloud-based, business presentation company, Brainshark, Inc.  While the survey included plenty of silly statistics, there were some very important findings in there too.

Much of the survey focused on how, when and where salespeople prepare for and deliver presentations to close.  Most of the sales questions (how they sell) focused on presenting - not conversations, discussions, questions, or anything approaching a consultative approach.  So it shouldn't be at all surprising that the survey reported that salespeople were frustrated by the following presentation challenges:

  • technology not functioning (56%), 
  • key decision-makers absent from the room (50%), 
  • a disengaged or distracted audience (34%),
  • not feeling well-prepared (14%),

and the following post-presentation/closing challenges:

  • unresponsive/difficult-to-reach prospects (55%)
  • not knowing who else is influencing purchasing decisions (49%)
  • having a hard time telling if the prospect is interested (26%)
  • not having appropriate follow-up materials (17%)

So here we are again, with half of the salespeople reporting that they aren't reaching decision makers.  And why would a decision maker want to be reached if the salespeople are focused only on presentations?  And companies wonder why their sales cycles are so long, their closing percentages are so low and their margins are slip sliding away...

Also noteworthy were these findings from the survey results:

  • Prepare:  77% of reps graded themselves a “B” or better for their prep work, while Managers thought that 58% of their reps merited a “B” or above, with 42% grading reps a “C” or below.
  • Present:  Only 14% of reps thought their presentation skills deserved a “C” or lower, while managers rated reps with a “C” or worse  43% of the time.  22% of reps thought they earned an “A” compared to 8% of managers who gave reps that grade.
  • Follow-up:  Reps were twice as likely as managers (21% versus 10%) to think they earned an “A” for post-meeting follow-up.  

When OMG evaluates a sales force, one of the two dozen or so questions we answer is whether the company's salespeople can be more effective at reaching decision makers.  We include several factors to support our answer but I can share that the findings come from:

  • their sales DNA,
  • their Beliefs,
  • their existing set of selling skills, and
  • their comfort level.

When it comes to salespeople believing, reaching, acting appropriately and speaking the language of senior decision makers, it is very ugly out there.  OMG's statistics show that a whopping 68% of salespeople struggle to reach decision makers.

How do your salespeople measure up?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales survey, reaching decision makers, sales presentations, sales assessments

The Biggest Mistake That Salespeople Make at Year End

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 @ 08:11 AM


calendarIt's the last day of November.  Realistically, there are three weeks of business remaining in the calendar year.  Will you hit your numbers?

The reality is that unless your sales cycle is shorter than 3 weeks, there isn't much chance that a new opportunity will impact the calendar year or quarter.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't be lining up new opportunities!  The biggest mistake that salespeople make at year end is investing all of their time on opportunities that are already in the pipeline.  There are two reasons why this is an ineffective strategy:

  1. Most of these opportunities are not yet closable and will not magically become closable just because it's the end of the year.  The progress made is the progress made and the time line is the timeline.
  2. Salespeople start the new year with few, if any, new opportunities in their pipeline.  This makes for an ugly month sometime during the following year, based on the length of the sales cycle.
So what should the plan be?  
Same as any other week, quarter or month.  Focus on the basics.
  • The sales plan calls for a certain number of new opportunities this month.  Make sure that goal is met to avoid the bad month next year.
  • Identify the closable opportunities in the pipeline.  Other than providing discounts and incentives (bad strategy) to close, what is standing in the way of getting those opportunities signed, sealed and delivered?
  • Identify the qualified (the stage before closable) opportunities in the pipeline with a  time line consistent with the end of this year.  Other than discounts and incentives, what will move those opportunities to closable?
  • Make no effort to close anything in the pipeline that hasn't reached the closable stage but do remain connected with the contacts from these opportunities. Your competition will be trying to close (prematurely) them...  You can even ask them if "the other guys are calling them and offering incentives to get them to sign".  You can also mention that you "know we aren't there yet" and all you want to do is continue your discussions with them.
In summary, your actions can not be dictated by the time of year.  Your actions must be dictated by where you are in the sales process and the step or stage that must occur next.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, Closing Sales, sales tips, hitting year end numbers

Top 10 Reasons Consultative Sellers Outsell Everyone Else

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 01, 2010 @ 13:10 PM

trustedYesterday I wrote about the Importance of the Relationship to the Sales Outcome.  I was asked to talk more about how the elite (top 6%) salespeople develop that kind (late-stage in the early stage) of relationship.

Have you ever worked with salespeople that were so bad you thought, "She couldn't close a door!"?  And have you ever worked with salespeople that were so good that you thought, "She could sell white to rice!"?

There's a good chance that the difference has less to do with their closing skills and much more to do with their ability to build a late stage relationship in the earliest stage of the sales process - the first meeting.

So what do they do?  Here are the top ten things they do:

  1. They learn about their prospect, not only from a business perspective, but a personal one too
  2. They ask lots of questions -not from a list of 50 questions -by going wider and deeper with the responses they get from the prior questions
  3. They share a little about themselves - no life stories, no company histories - by empathizing with something they heard about
  4. They ask the really tough questions - the ones nobody else dares to ask - that differentiate them from everyone else
  5. They walk rather than run from 1st to 2nd base (Baseline Selling Sales Process)
  6. They get their prospects to share their feelings about the issues being discussed
  7. They gain their prospects' trust gradually over the course of their discussion
  8. They are credible - they don't talk badly about their competition and they don't oversell themselves
  9. They make it all about their prospects
  10. Their posture includes the roles of humble expert, caring friend, and helpful advisor

Now I'll ask yesterday's question again - how do your salespeople stack up?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, sales posturing, Closing Sales, sales tips, salespeople

Which Salespeople Use Bad Judgment and Burn Bridges?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 @ 06:06 AM

describe the imageYou want your salespeople to get decisions instead of taking stalls, put-offs and objections.  Some of your salespeople are better at this than others.  I've written extensively about the difference between the required skills versus the strengths that support closing, as well as recognizing and dealing with put-offs.  Today, I will discuss the difference between not getting the desired reaction or behavior, not getting a decision and burning a bridge.

So here are several common scenarios:

  1. Prospect says, "Yes" - No action required.
  2. Prospect says, "No" - Find out why and attempt to resell. Worst case, you have a final decision.
  3. Prospect says, "We'll let you know next week" - Find out what will be different next week or what they expect to say next week and attempt to close now.  Worst case, follow up next week.
  4. Prospect says, "We aren't sure" or "Maybe" or "Timing isn't right" - Start asking questions, back up, get to the bottom of it and begin selling again.
  5. Prospect says, "We still need to look around" or "We don't know who we're going to go with" - you didnt' stand out so you can do what you can to change that, find out what they wanted to hear or see but didn't, or bring it to a "No".

From the scenarios above, the most likely candidate for disaster is #3 (although you can make a case for 4 and 5). 

A timid salesperson waits for next week and if there is another put-off, loses control and eventually the potential revenue from opportunities like this one. 

An excellent salesperson asks good, tough, timely questions and gets the opportunity either back on track, sold, or to a "No". 

Impatient, emotional salespeople become overly frustrated and when they don't have Need for Approval (usually a good thing except when they are impatient and emotional) they may use bad judgment. Rather than asking questions, helping with the process, providing the prospect with an opportunity to say, "No", or leaving the door open for next time, they blow-up the prospect/opportunity, burn the bridge and move on.  They usually feel like the prospect deserved it.

One selling methodology even teaches its students to "burn your bridges".

I can't think of a single situation where the salesperson or company benefits from burning a bridge.

Agreeing not to do business is fine.  Accepting that you won't get the business after giving maximum effort is fine. Telling a prospect that you don't think you can work with them is fine.  But insults, rudeness, nastiness and abruptness is not fine.

Burn your emotions, not your bridges.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Closing Sales, closing techniques

Game Seven - There is No Tomorrow with This Sales Opportunity

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 @ 12:06 PM

Game 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had hoped to write this post a day earlier, before the drama of game 7 actually played out, before the outcome was in the books.  But busy happened.

I was thinking about all of the Game 7's that occur for companies, sales teams and salespeople, when there is no tomorrow.

I believe the phenomenon is counter-intuitive.  You hear about the last week of the month, quarter and year, and the sales managers that are putting on full-court presses, making calls, getting executive help and working overtime to get deals done.  But, in these scenarios, there is a tomorrow, at least from the prospects' perspective.  They can just as easily buy from you or someone else next week, next month or next year.  All this drama is just so that the sales folks can hit their numbers and they are only in these life or death situations - every month, quarter and year - because they didn't work the sales process as defined. They skipped steps, didn't uncover the compelling reasons to buy, weren't thorough enough, didn't qualify effectively, and as a result, because of their artificial deadline, are offering price incentives to get the business closed today.  It's a bad strategy.  As soon as a competitor offers their price incentives to take the business away, your customer is either gone or becomes unprofitable.

There are some opportunities that do come down to No Tomorrow.  But those are customer/prospect driven, not sales driven.  Believe it or not, most sales organizations do not respond to the real Game 7 scenarios with the same urgency as they do in my previous example.  It seems that when it's more about "who will we choose?", instead of "How much of a discount will you offer?", salespeople are woefully ill-equipped to do what it takes to will a victory the way the Lakers did last night.

This is actually #19 of the Top 20 Requirements - How Salespeople Can be Better at Closing - differentiating themselves without talking about how they're different, but by asking questions instead.

Speaking of differentiating, I just learned that this Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, was named one of the Top 20 Blogs on Sales by the folks that write the Lead Generation Blog called, About Leads.

In summary, don't turn opportunities where there IS a tomorrow into a desperate, "How much of a price concession do we have to make?", last ditch effort to close it today scenario, but do turn a customer/prospect-initiated deadline into a Game 7 scenario where you do whatever it takes to earn that business!

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, Closing Sales, Game 7, top sales blog, lead generation

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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