Disturbingly often I meet with sales people who say “you know, when it comes to my sales calls I usually just wing it.” They have a twinkle in their eye and a look of mischief that implies “and it’s fun!” I bet it is fun. Poor paycheques however, are not so entertaining.
Winging it leads to unpredictable sales results and having to navigate sales with no compass or roadmap. It causes long closing cycles, things falling through the cracks, and a severe case of “oh, if I could only do that one again!” Don’t set yourself up for this grief. Become a Sales Strategist.
To be a Sales Strategist is to begin each sale with the end in mind. It is to have the plans for the beautiful house you want to build [a closed sales deal] well imagined up front and sketched out. As you proceed with building it [navigating your sale] you refer to your plans often to ensure that no detail is missed and that the end result matches your vision.
Becoming a Sales Strategist sounds daunting. It really isn’t. Here are a few easy things you can do to become a Sales Strategist…
- Read “The New Strategic Selling” by Stephen Heiman and Dianne Sanchez. This book provides a way to make sense of the labyrinth that is the decision making process within your buyer’s organization. You will never look at a sales deal the same again. Buy and read it now.
- Ask yourself the following questions about any sales deal you are working on today:
- Out of whose budget in my buyer’s organization will the money come to pay for my products or services [hint: it may not be your buyer’s]? Have I met with this person? How can I make that meeting happen?
- Who in my buyers organization could influence whether or not I get a yes to my deal? Are they on my side?
- Who are the people in the organization that will use my product or service day in and day out [often the person doing the purchasing is buying on behalf of those who will in fact use it]? Have I connected with them? How do they feel about using my products or services?
- Am I selling to the right level in the organization? There is nothing more frustrating than having to take a ‘No’ from someone not authorized to give you a ‘Yes’.
- Do a written plan before each sales interaction. Prepare the questions you will ask to learn more about your buyer’s needs, hidden buying influences, and the existence of factors that are helping or hindering your sale.
Fifty percent of sales success is directly tied the quality of strategic sales planning done by the seller. The other half comes from great execution. Become a Sales Strategist and you will close deals more effectively and efficiently.