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Sales Whispering: Diagnosing Sales Health Problems

Three Business Health Problems Your B2B Sales Organization is Telling You.

It would be great if sales whispering was talking to your prospects just right so they magically purchase.  In actuality, it is a bit more introspective: Listening to and recognizing the hidden problems of lost deals, stalled engagements, wasted effort and reactivity in your company. Since sales is ultimately the “thing” that keeps your business going, take a moment and ask yourself if your business engine is talking to you though your sales organization. Most commonly, the business talks through three main issues: Going Dark: After engaging with a client, is there a high stall-rate when it’s time to close? Trusting Your Funnel: Have you lost confidence in your pipeline and can’t budget from it? Overly Reactive: If your customer’s in control of an engagement, should they be? Yes, the online world has changed with how people purchase, but that only makes it more important to have a finely tuned B2B sales approach when it is time to engage. And any one of these three signs are telling you your sales organization needs help.

Going Dark It is an all-too-frequent occurrence when you engage, do a demo, and can’t close because your sales engagement stops.  There are all kinds of reasons engagements stall but the most common is a self-inflicted wound. The self-inflicted wound takes many forms including: Believe it or not, simply not being prepared or getting to know your prospect Too much talk of the features in your technology Using the demo as a sales crutch vs. an earned qualifying tool Defining roles of account ownership and management involvement There are all kinds of reasons these things happen, even to experienced sales teams.  Bad habits creep in over time, especially with the pressure to makes calls and close deals. They are insidious and “whisper” to your company though stalled deals. Trusting your Funnel Every single company has a funnel or a pipeline.  Businesses make decisions based on the revenue projected to close in the pipeline.  However, simply doing a demo is not an effective gateway for a “close” designation in an enterprise solution sale.  The key is to provide a quantifiable, objective process that increases the reliability of the pipeline projections. In conjunction with addressing the “Going Dark” phenomenon, establishing concrete gateways between defined sales stages along with the surgical use of management will get your organization back on solid ground. The truth is that most companies have pipelines with spongy categories and subjective gateways. That ultimately provides unreliable data and breaks  confidence in the critical revenue projections. Overly Reactive On one hand, it’s important to take very good care of your prospective customer.  On the other, is it best to let them drive the sales engagement?  Definitely learn about their procurement process but it’s important to be an informed guide through the process. Odds are, your prospective customer may purchase your technology once every 5- 8 years. Your sales team does this every day and is expert at helping them buy your type of technology.  Being an informed guide means overlaying your qualification process on their procurement process while defining mutually agreed upon next steps. This ensures that business discovery stays in line with  technical discovery while providing mutual and incremental clarity of the overall business fit. The result?  Focus your organization’s efforts on the deals worth closing. Summary With the internet changing the purchasing process, when you finally get to engage, these three elements critically play together for optimal effectiveness. And when your engagements are not as effective as they could be, the business will tell you. Fix it quickly, then move back to your real business of business, which through effective sales, results in increased revenue.

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