6 tips to help reduce deal slippage this winter.

Image

September is on its way out and we can see winter lurking up ahead. For a great many B2B companies it’s a stressful time of year as for some a big piece of the quarter is effectively unavailable for B2B selling due to the Christmas break. The stress is created because we know that some of the deals just won’t happen or at best will slip into the next period.

So maybe this is a good time to take stock of the health of your pipeline and identify what can be done to strengthen your position. Here are 6 top tips that you could employ now to improve your chances of hitting your number.

  1. Review your sales pipeline and identify where each prospective deal is sitting at present. Is the deal “stuck” at a particular stage? Is support needed to get the deal moving again? Pick out the bigger deals and work with them first. (Remember Pareto, 80% of your number will likely come from 20% of your opportunities).Slip-199x300
  1. Check that each deal meets your selection criteria. i.e. is the deal real, does an opportunity really exist? Is the deal attractive for your company, can you make money and is it something that’s part of your core offer. And of course, can you actually win the deal? e.g. Do you have the customer relationships to get the votes you need? If you don’t have a Selection Criteria, do that work now and apply it at the qualification stage of your pipeline to ensure that you pursue deals that are real, attractive and winnable.
  1. If the deal passes the selection tests, then check that you have a close plan. If not, build one. i.e. How are you going to win this deal? Who will be involved and what are the key milestones? What do you need to do to get this deal over the line.
  1. Communicate the close plan to all parties that touch the deal. (No matter how light that touch is). Make sure everybody knows what part they will play in winning the deal. Build a deal team for each opportunity (of a certain size).
  1. Establish a “sales war room” to regain traction, track progress and determine strategy and tactics on each and every validated deal. Ensure that every stage of the sales process is identified, and importantly, make sure that the activity required at each stage is identified along with who in the deal team will carry it out. Ensure that completion is tracked and progress is made to the next activity or stage. Establish a sense of urgency in the team.
  1. Make sure that there is constant focus on backfilling the pipeline. It is by its very nature a leaky vessel and deals will drop out as you progress them through. Remember that no matter how good you are, you won’t win every deal, so the pipeline needs to be constantly topped up. And secondly, sales naturally take time to transit the system; so make sure you act now. Delays in action only create delays in results.

Contact me now to learn more about how leading B2B companies have eliminated this stress by adopting a new visual approach to the sales process that can deliver all of the above, giving salespeople and leaders a panoramic view of accounts and deals, identifies what they need to do next, and helps prevent unseen deal losses.

#justsaying

A series of short articles asking some of the awkward questions that we never seem to ask?

No 1: Why do we stick our heads in the sand?

In my career to date there are a number of incontrovertible truths that I have come across. One of the truths that will rise to the surface regularly is that businesses have a tendency to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the warning signs, or worse, the history of their business and its revenue trends.

An example: The historical revenue trend for company X says that we’ll have a dip in  core revenues across the Christmas period and again in the height of summer. So, we build this into our plans and forecasts and lo and behold we hit our numbers in those months. Yippee!

iStock_000011530241MediumHowever, we also know from history that either the preceding or following months can also suffer with lower than acceptable performance and when we analyse this we cannot attribute it to any specific seasonal factor, other than …. “Our salespeople have taken their foot off the gas and it will take a few weeks to get back up to speed”. Or the blame game version “Our customers are still on vacation” or even, the market isn’t buying!

On the theme of vacations, why is it that the salesperson is surprised when the deal they were waiting on, you know the one, the big one, the dead cert, the one that was going to make his year, stops dead in its tracks! As a result the sales number is missed big time and when challenged, the response is, “the decision maker has gone on vacation”. Why didn’t we know that this was likely to happen? It’s vacation season after all!

So why don’t we take the time to ask the questions that would help us understand the buying process steps along with its twists and turns, or invest in advance in the selling activities that will help stop these periods from being problematic? A classic case is summer vacations and post-summer “Back to School” periods.

Why is it that in B2B selling we don’t routinely invest in making sure our sales teams are refreshed, renewed and refocused for when they get back from their summer vacation? Or use the tools that we use at other times of the year to manage the pipeline flow effectively or use the skills we’ve been taught over and over to be able to ask the awkward questions?

#justsaying

Who are they ?

Like most methods of communication, blogs are all about content. The content of this blog is normally fairly informal covering general topics that have sparked my interest or that have come up in everyday conversations with business colleagues, friends and peers.

In this post I’m not going to do the talking. I thought that maybe it’s about time that my  posts have a bit of context to them. So it would be good to share a little about the company I work for and what it is that we do for our clients.

If you are in the business of selling and/or leading people that sell then it’s likely that this video might strike a chord. If so, please take the time to contact me or call me on + 44 (0) 7515 394373 – we probably should be talking.