Did you ever really sit down and review why you didn’t close a deal, win a contract, hit your forecast or achieve your annual sales target? I mean a truly introspective look at what you “thought” would happen vs. what “actually” happened. I realize that we all admit that we learn from our mistakes, but do we really change our behaviors to expect different outcomes?
Here’s an approach that you might want to get in the habit of doing when you are falling short of your expectations. Most of the time the discussion centers on why we lost; let’s reverse that exercise and take a look at why you thought you were going to win.
What you will find nearly 100% of the time, is that you just didn’t understand your client’s decision criteria and you simply did not dig deep enough into their current state, resulting into a “fake news” reason you were going to win.
The most damaging concern about fake news is that we use this information to convince ourselves, for all of the wrong reasons that we are going to win.
Here are 6 common “fake news” reasons:
1. “The client’s current contract expires at the end of the month; therefore they have to make a decision.”
Reality: Relationships can extend well beyond contract terms. Very often terms state automatic renewals or month to month continuation. If a client/vendor relationship is in good standing, the “contract” is not the driver of change.
2. “The client is looking for a partner, not a vendor.”
Reality: Nice! This makes me feel good too. Could be a good reason, but have you and your client had the tough conversation to truly understand what this means? What makes you think they view you as the change they are seeking?
3. "Dissatisfied with current provider."
Reality: OK, but clients commonly live with challenging relationships for years. Do you know the degree of concern? Is the relationship causing business disruption? If not, this is on its own not a reason to change.
4. "The only hurdle is management approval. The cost is where it needs to be."
Reality: A couple of issues here - Do you understand the decision criteria of management? How do you know your numbers are good? Regardless if you are "Where you need to be", you are not in front of the Key Decision Maker.
5. "They would like to implement the new program by Labor Day."
Reality: That's great! Often times we accept this as a true timeline to move forward - and it may be, but this is where words are important. They would "like to" or do they "need to"? Your challenge here is to fully understand why adhering to a calendar date is important. If you are satisfied that you know the answer, the next step is to understand the level of confidence the client has in you to make it happen. Are you positioned to win?
6. "We think they are in enough pain to make a decision."
Reality: First, our reason for winning NEVER begins with "we think". Defect in the sales process isn't from what you know, it's from what you don't know - not knowing the details of the client's buying decision. You need to know the degree of pain. Is the pain strong enough to make a change? This is where your efforts to understand and truly add value are to dig to the second and third level of the actual issues. People live with pain!
Here’s a good litmus test you should use to validate your pipeline and forecast. If your reason for winning a deal or closing an opportunity on a certain date doesn’t begin with “the customer told me…” there’s a good chance that you are running with fake news.
With Butler Street’s Sales Effectiveness and Strategic Selling training and tools, our clients go beyond the news of the day. By working in their clients operating reality and digging deep into understanding the client’s driving force for change they improve both their own results as well as the results of their clients.