There are times I’ll shake my head when I hear sales people complain that they don’t have time. No time to prospect, do administrative work, get in front of prospects and customers, spend with family – you get the drill. So why are you wasting so much time on either deals you’ll never win, or deals you can win but your sales process is way ahead of your buyer’s sales process?
As so many of you are now trying to close fiscal year-end deals – on your timeline, not your customer’s – it becomes very apparent which deals will close and which ones will not. End of year is when management’s microscope comes out − inspecting every nuance of every deal to figure out how to close NOW.
But, why were you not focusing on this earlier? There is a perception that if the customer wants to spend time with you, then it is a good utilization of your time. And why not? You are a nice person. You take them to lunch, golf with them, teach them things, share ideas. However, what may be a good utilization of their time may not be a good use of yours.
If you have so much time to spend working a deal that you have little chance of winning, then why don’t you have the time to ask the tough questions? By asking the tough questions early on, you can better manage your time. You can find out if your products and services help solve the priority business outcome the customer is trying to achieve and who cares about it – I mean really cares. And you can understand the customer’s timeline and why that timeline is important to them.
If you discover this information early on, versus rushing to a demo or providing a proposal too quickly, then it’s true that you may lose early. However, it’s a much better use of your time, or you’ll at least know to forecast the deal on the customer’s timeline and not yours.
I know, I can hear it now: “Of course I do all that.” You’re a professional sales person and know to look for budget, authority, needs and authority (BANT). But are you looking for it in the right places?
If your outcome is technology focused − for example, faster reporting or more efficient utilization of, well anything – then your outcome is technology focused. Now, that by itself is not a big issue, but if you don’t understand how faster reporting will help the customer achieve a priority business outcome, then how will you know if you’re spending your time on the right opportunities?
With no compelling event, how do you close a deal? So, the year has gone by and you’re frantically trying to close a deal that has no compelling event for the “authority” you have or haven’t even identified. You probably are now working on a new proposal to reduce the fee if they close by your fiscal year-end.
But, that won’t work since you could probably give it away and they still wouldn’t buy now. Why? There could be many reasons, but it’s more likely that they have other priority projects to work on and complete, which is where their time, money and resources are going right now.
Stop selling for your own reasons and try to figure out EARLY if these are deals you can win. So think about it. Are you spending your time wisely? Are you working deals you can win? I realize that most people will say they are, but are you truly doing that? Think about it.