GUEST: Mary Lombardo, CEO of Absolute Impact Corporation
The sale is going well – you may think you know where it’s going. Then suddenly things start falling apart. “I need to take this to my boss.” It’s a phrase we dread hearing, yet are all too familiar with in the world of sales. So how can we combat chaos?
Why Things Go Wrong
It may feel like things fall apart out of the blue, but the reality is often that part of the sales cycle was overlooked. According to Mary, salespeople need to first do the methodical legwork before seeing a deal close. “It’s critical for a sale to have all steps in a sales cycle completed,” Mary said. “And 99 and half percent of the time they have to happen in the correct order.”
Mary attributes the loss of a sale to three things:
- The prospect’s view of the solution to their problem changing.
- There not being a unique capability alignment.
- Not testing whether the person you’re engaged with has the authority over resources.
“I think sales is a mix of art and science, and the science piece cannot be overlooked here,” Mary said.
Two Factors for Success
We asked Mary what two things contribute the most to a successful sales cycle and can prevent failure. Here's what she said:
- Get procurement involved ASAP. Procurement’s mission is to provide that person with authority the lowest possible price. That’s why it’s important that they understand the value that salespeople create with a prospect. Otherwise, procurement is just going to make a decision based on price – and lowest price will win.
- Sales are relationship-based. It’s important to establish relationships early on insteading involving procurement in the 11th hour.
The Dark Side of Discount
When all else fails, sales reps have a tendency to use discounts, rather than pushing back and having a deeper conversation with the prospect. “It’s that hasty decision, just wanting to close something,” Mary said. “We all know the pressures of carrying a quota, and sometimes it can be just that.”
Discounts might close a sale, but not every sale is a good sale. According to Mary, selling for the sake of selling can put the relationship in jeopardy, and relationships are more important than a quick sale; they can turn into future business and pay dividends far beyond the current sale.
Even with established relationships and built-up rapport, radio silence can happen. According to Mary, this is often caused by a failure to create a logical timetable of events for people with authority to follow. “Creating this backward step-by-step timetable of events will mitigate any other reasons accounts will go dark,” Mary said.
What is Most Effective When Someone is Trying to Sell You?
We like to ask our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Mary answered:
“Are they really interested in me and my situation or do they just want to sell me something? Do they appear to be knowledgeable? I want to be able to get the sense and the experience from someone sitting across the desk from me that they know what they’re talking about. And are they willing to listen more than speak? When the tables are turned I need to see that they are really taking in what it is that I’m saying and not just talking at me. Also, their tenacity. If they’re willing to reach out to me and they’re consistent, that means they’re going to work hard for me. And finally, have they done their homework?”
In every episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we try to pull one nugget of wisdom from our guests that they would impart on a sales professional. Here’s this one:
“One piece of advice, nobody really cares about you or your company or your product. They really only care about their problems. So talk about what they’re interested in first. You’ll have more than enough time to share, but only when the time is right.”
This post is based on a podcast interview with Mary Lombardo, CEO of Absolute Impact Corporation. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.