By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
You would enjoy a lavish life style if you were on the PGA tour and finished second in each golf tournament you entered. In stark contrast a salesperson that came in second on every opportunity would have to live on their base salary and make frequent job changes. By its nature selling is a winner take all proposition. There are no parting gifts or consolation prizes.
During a workshop I taught, a CEO had an epiphany he shared with his team:
Most of his salespeople had an annoying habit of losing slowly.
By that he meant they worked on many opportunities that had little chance of closing. These deals remained in their pipelines (pipe dreams) to make it appear as though the numbers could be made.
Sellers ultimately must decide which opportunities to pursue. Competent sellers understand the difference between activity and progress.
The worst possible outcome of sales cycles is going the distance and losing, whether it be to another vendor or to no decision.
In many cases, sellers fail (or are afraid) to see signs that all is NOT well:
- Buyers already had budget in place, often provided by “Column A” vendors
- Buyers already had determined their requirements
- Sellers had limited or no chance to influence the requirements list
- Sellers couldn’t gain access to Key Players
- Sellers couldn’t establish value
- Proposals issued months ago hang in their pipelines
Many sellers fail to realize buyers may need pricing/proposals from other vendors to make comparisons or to leverage pricing to get a better deal from the vendor of choice.
If access to Key Players isn’t granted, sellers do have the option to say they are unable to make a recommendation without first understanding the needs of Key Players.
This can become a “quid pro quo” of gaining access in exchange for submitting a proposal. If buyers refuse to grant access, it allows sellers to lose more quickly and look for better opportunities to work on. This is consistent with the core concept of “bad news early is good news.”
A question for your consideration: Over the last 12 months, how many opportunities have you chosen to walk away from? My hope is that the time you would have spent losing could be spent finding winnable opportunities.
A final parting thought: After Column A is awarded the business, Columns B, C, etc. are often told they came in second. It’s the most expedient way to let them down without rehashing why they lost.
When in doubt, save the below infographic for easy reference: