Year-end is a stressful time for most of us in Sales. We’re racing to the finish line to try to meet – or hopefully exceed – our quota, and there are always variables that are beyond our control.
I’d like to share three proactive strategies so you can stay on top of all the moving pieces, and close deals as expeditiously as possible.
Clients and prospects aren’t static; things change. Although you may believe everything is progressing toward a sale, unexpected circumstances often pop up. Be ready for them, and your qualification process will continue to move forward. Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “Change is the only constant in life,” and illustrated that point by saying, “No man ever steps into the same river twice.”
Now, I’m pretty sure Heraclitus wasn’t talking about prospect qualification, but his words definitely apply. Prospect qualification isn’t an event, it’s a process. As you approach year-end, that process needs to be continuously tested and requalified because things will change. ValueSelling’s qualified prospect formula takes into account the multi-faceted nature of prospect qualification, and those facets are identified in our QP Formula™.
Triangulate Information Sources
When I think of “triangulation,” I picture those cop dramas where the suspect’s location is pinpointed by their cell phone use! But you should also think about triangulating all of the information you have from different sources to make sure you are advancing to close your deal. Don’t rely on just one person’s input. As you manage the sales process, make sure there is no single point of view or point of failure.
Today’s organizations can be tricky. Job titles are often meaningless, and your main contact could have a shift in responsibilities, become unreachable, or suddenly leave the company. It seems fundamental, but if Rick’s not calling you back, you should call Christine or Tom, and try to figure out what’s going on.
A recent report from research firm IDC revealed that there are, on average, 21 individuals involved in influencing technology purchases due to digital transformation and a more inclusive buying dynamic. This would primarily be the case for very large enterprise deals, but, whether you have five people involved or 21, you need to manage and build consensus across groups. With ValueSelling, our communication framework is applicable to everyone. It lets you to manage the conversation and develop a mutual understanding of how you and your organization can add value to your buyer and their business.
Back into your Timeline and Gain Agreement
As a sales professional, your timeline seems to logically lead to a signature on a purchase order. However, that is your goal, not your customer’s. The end date for the timeline should be when value is realized, and your customer’s business issue is resolved. One of the key nuances that ValueSelling teaches is to focus on “reverse thinking.”
It’s important to concentrate on results, not just the next steps. Start with value realization: “When does the customer need to solve this problem by?” When you figure out what’s going to happen last, then you can back into what must be done now to make that happen. For example, if a prospect needs to show performance results by the middle of next year, you need to think about how long it will take them to implement your solution and start demonstrating value, and then build in your average sales cycle prior to that. So, signing the purchase order is only a mid-way point in the process.
At the same time, the well-known sales axiom “time kills all deals” also holds true. Implement your sales techniques to try to create urgency for prospects to act sooner as opposed to later. Focus on the value realization and use that compelling event to create a timeline that will drive resolution. Finally, make sure everyone involved agrees with the timeline, so you are all moving in the same direction.
As you approach the end of the year, keep in mind these strategies that can be used year-round – make sure you continuously qualify, triangulate your information sources, determine your prospect’s value realization, and then build out a timeline with that as your end goal.
Relevant topic? Listen to the recorded webinar, originally aired on November 21st at 10 AM Pacific: Your Checklist for Closing Opportunities this Quarter.