The Science of Selling: Lose Fast
Remember the soap opera Days of our Lives and the famous opening?
“As sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives.”
As sands through the hour glass, we all get 525,600 minutes in a year. No one gets more or less than you do. It is what you do in those 525,600 minutes that separates the great from the good, average and below average sales people.
Here is a newsflash: if you are going to lose a deal--LOSE FAST!!!! Every minute you spend on a losing deal is a minute you don’t spend on cultivating a winning deal! It really is that simple.
So what separates the great salespeople from the rest? It comes down to three basic things:
They are relentless about qualifying the opportunity
They define the strategy—both the competitive strategy and the relationship strategy
They work the plan
Qualify the Opportunity
Great salespeople live by this mantra: if we solve our customer’s problems, we’ll solve our own. In other words, if you create value for your customers, they will create value for you by awarding you the business. Great salespeople check their ego at the door and qualify the opportunity. They understand it is not what you know that beats you in the sales process, it is what you don’t know! They take the time to understand the critical concerns and objectives of the key decision makers, the decision process and the decision criteria among other things. If the customer is not willing to invest in them, they disengage.
Next, they define the strategy both the competitive strategy and relationship strategy.
Great salespeople typically leverage one of the following three strategies:
Direct Offensive: this is where they feel like they are very well positioned with the value of the solution they have created. They know they have the ROI. Their solution is superior in the eyes of the customer and they have a strong reputation with the key decision makers. They are able to drive the process.
Change the Game: because they know there solution is not a superior one, they attempt to create a new “recognition of needs” with the customer and redefine the scope, adding new criteria that benefits their position.
Divide & Conquer: this is the classic “beach head” strategy whereby the customer may be unwilling to place all their business with one supplier. This is where you take on a niche position with a department or a division, leverage your Key Account Management and Quarterly Business Reviews to eventually take on all the business.
As they move through the sales process, they are constantly working to advance the relationship. To do so they need to understand the political landscape and who has the influence and power to make things happen for them. In simple form, they are assessing relationships in three categories:
Promoter: They believe in you and your solution. They work with you to navigate the political landscape and actively sell on your behalf. They provide the pros and cons of the competition.
Passive or Neutral: They agree your solution may have potential, but show no preference. They are willing to learn more.
Detractor: They either overwhelmingly favor another supplier/solution and/or believe that your success will hurt them or their company. They will make a special effort to cause you to lose. They actively speak negative about you.
The great sales people invest time in dynamic relationship mapping and learn how to leverage their promoters, neutralize their detractors and influence their passives.