6 tips to help reduce deal slippage this winter.

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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.

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Sound familiar ?

“As a result of an internal business review we’ve built a detailed specification of our requirements for [insert descriptive] that we feel your organisation may be able to satisfy. We’d like you to complete the attached RFP by [insert unreasonable time-frame]  and if considered suitable, to attend our offices on [insert non-negotiable date] and make a presentation about why you should be considered as a potential supplier”.

…and the unspoken bit hidden between the lines, “ We’ve also managed to come up with a list of your competitors and have asked them to do the same. Of course, one of your competitors is the incumbent and as such is very likely to retain the business”.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this type of conversation is becoming more and more common as buyers of B2B goods and services increasingly access publicly available information and use it to work out their own needs. Some studies suggest that they are completing as much as 60% of purchasing decisions before even engaging a supplier or speaking with a salesperson.

Of course, the RFP is an extreme of how the “informed” buyer is handling the procurement task. Not every solution is acquired through an RFP. Maybe it’s a scenario where the prospect says things like “I’ve been on the internet”, “I know how much it should cost”, “I’m familiar with the technical specs” or countless other examples. One things for sure, it’s a fact that every prospect can tap into information that just wasn’t accessible a few years ago and that changes the game.

So how do you adapt your sales approach to ensure that you are seen as an invaluable part of the buying process and be the one that secures the customers’ business?

An approach to this conundrum has been developed by Global Sales Training and Results Improvement Specialists, Mercuri International, and is centred on Differentiated Selling™ or put another way, the ability to flex your sales approach to the way people buy.

As the information age continues to gather pace, there are a number of your customers who having researched everything, feel that they know clearly what they want and are very comfortable to continue to trust you to provide it. In these situations the salesperson is fulfilling a known set of requirements in a “safe” relationship and only has to provide the solution. Typically, this type of selling situation would be managed by an Account Manager. That is, a salesperson who is focussed totally on the quality of the relationship between your company and the client.

But what happens when the prospect is not clear about their requirements and whether they want to work with your company at all? How do you approach this type of prospect?

Or the prospect who knows what he wants (or thinks he knows) but is not happy or convinced about working with you?

Differentiated Selling™ is essentially an approach that flexes dependant on the buying situation of the prospect. It requires you to think and act differently in different situations rather than have a “one size fits all” sales approach.

Are you ready to start being different? If you are, it could be useful to have a discussion with us first. We have some provocative insights into how you can turn your customer’s way of thinking on its head.

Interested in hearing more? Contact me by clicking here to arrange an introductory discussion and discover how to win that elusive customers business a little more often.

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.