Yesterday’s great post by Frank Belzer uses the capture of Whitey Bulger to illustrate how prospects “disappear” when you allow them to.
Boston is buzzing with conspiracy theories. Did the FBI know where Whitey was and use the public service announcements as a cover? Is this an elaborate plot orchestrated by Whitey to bring down the FBI? Did the FBIturn Whitey in, and my favorite did some of his associates who are currently writing a screenplay for their book about his rein tip the FBI off to drivepublicity for the movie? Coincidentally it’s rumored that their office was three blocks from his Santa Monica apartment.
Conspiracy theories aside the questions are about the “context” of his arrest. Unfortunately salespeople are lousy at investigating the context of sales opportunities. Check it out for yourself; ask them these questions and see what happens.
- What are current revenue and profit of the company of division?
- Where did the initiative you are discussing originate i.e. who’s idea was it?
- What role did your contact play in previous efforts to fix the problem?
- How will they benefit if it goes forward?
- Who may have to eat some crow to solve the problem?
- How long has the problem existed?
- Why hasn’t it been addressed to date?
- What happens is the problem isn’t fixed?
When you ask questions about the “context” of opportunities most salespeople don’t have good answers. They seem to focus narrowly on the problem and when it needs to be fixed and not “context” factors which influence the decision making process and the commitment to fix the problem. I suspect that as a mentor, coach, peer or sales leader you ask about this but not to the extent or depth required. Without a very clear understanding of the “sales context” you can’t create a winning strategy or anticipate their new move before it happens.
Take a page from the conspiracy theorists, while their ideas may be wacky and far-fetched they are creative and when explored can lead to some very interesting conclusions.