Does your team have a problem ‘closing’ deals?

I’ve lost count of the number of sales leaders that approach me and tell me that they have a problem ’closing sales’, when in fact their real problem is how to qualify the right opportunities IN or OUT of their pipeline. When I challenge and dig deeper, it is often the case that poor qualification is the root cause of poor win rates.

Here are 6 things to look out for if you want to improve qualification and win more.

Pipeline Fiction

In many organisations, anybody can put a new deal into the pipeline. Without an appropriate level of rigour in qualification, the pipeline is overstated, deals with a low win probability prevail, deal velocity suffers and sales forecasting becomes a guessing game. A further consequence of too many ‘unwinnable’ deals is that there are scarce resources to support bids and the win rate suffers.

It is the role of sales leaders to put a filter on pipeline entry and apply rigour to only pursue deals that are winnable.

Guessing

We wouldn’t expect to visit a doctor and get a prescription without a thorough examination …would we?

However, in sales I see a repeated pattern of salespeople jumping to conclusions too early about what the right solution might be for their prospect. It is common for sales people to ask just enough questions to justify their ‘solution in mind’ and then stop when they hear a few answers that gel with their thinking.

As a result, opportunities are small or missed altogether. Do your sales team thoroughly ‘diagnose’ before they ‘prescribe’?

Not Seeking Decisions

It’s a simple fact. Sales opportunities only progress from one stage to the next, one
step to another, when a customer, client or prospect makes a decision.

Most sales people know this intuitively, yet they still put too little time and purpose into planning major interactions. They focus too much on their own ‘needs’ or solutions and not enough on the client.

Proposing or Presenting TOO SOON

I have a metaphor I use when working with groups and talking about this challenge

“…when you have squeezed the toothpaste out of the tube it is impossible to put it back.”

What I am saying here is that once you have presented (or even worse – sent a deck for somebody else to present) your message is out there. I see too many organisations lose deals because they jumped to proposal too early without truly understanding the client needs, business case, organizational context, or decision process.

Do any of your team members suffer from premature presentation syndrome?

Poor Stakeholder Management

It’s pretty impossible these days to envisage a single person making the decision to buy an expensive or complex product or solution. Yet I commonly see sales people ‘locked-in’ to a great relationship with an influencer and never getting to meet the people that actually make the decisions.

Experience tells us that in major complex deals there are typically 5-6 decision makers. How many of them have we met?

No Compelling Value Proposition

If a value proposition doesn’t actually have a ‘value’, then it’s just a proposition. If it’s just a proposition, it may not capture the attention of the buyers, it may not differentiate you from your competitors, and worse, it may demonstrate your lack of understanding about the client situation and needs.

What do they value? If there is no value and no compelling reason for the customer or client to act, they won’t, and the deal won’t close.

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