By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
2018 is here, a time for making resolutions that you may or may not keep. I’d like to suggest trying what may be a different approach to finding new opportunities.
The best leading indicator of future performance is the quality and quantity of opportunities in a seller’s pipeline.
Starting 2018, the condition of each seller’s pipeline reflects how they finished the year. If it was a sprint to end 2017 there’s work to do. Regardless of where you stand I’d like to offer an approach that can allow you to shorten sales cycles and increase win rates moving forward.
Most sales organizations have an increasing reliance on inbound leads. If you’re selling complex or expensive offerings, these leads are likely to:
- Provide entry points below Key Player levels
- Put you in contact with people interested in products that don’t have budget
- Have you contact people concurrently evaluating several vendors in a given space
- Have you contact people unaware of business results that can be impacted
- Yield a high percentage of “no decisions” and low close rates
- Represent quantity more than quality
It takes courage and initiative but there is a way to start opportunities with Key Players that enables sellers to establish themselves as “Column A” from the start with buyers who can find budgets for new initiatives. Key Players don’t have time to visit websites and evaluate vendors. For that reason many are unaware of value and payback offerings can provide.
These buyers have latent needs, not for offerings (an erroneous assumption many sellers make), but rather for achieving desired business outcomes. I recently used an approach Michael Higgins (Selling at the C-Level) provided. He suggested this:
? Review a prospect’s annual report to learn the company’s objectives and challenges and select a specific title and outcome that an offering could help them achieve.
Here’s my experience using this approach:
- I researched a Fortune 500 company and sent a one-page letter via snail mail to their Chairman.
- Four days later I called.
- After being heavily screened I was told the admin was busy and I should call that afternoon.
- 45 minutes later I got a phone call from a senior vice president that had been asked (or told?) to contact me.
- A buying cycle began with a Key Player.
Superior salespeople sell outcomes rather than offerings.
These sellers pique senior executive interest by leading with relevant business goals or issues.
Leading with offerings puts sellers out of alignment with Key Player buyers who don’t have the time nor interest to learn about products.
I hope 2018 will be prosperous for you and that you may try this new approach to generate new opportunities.