In sales’ win/loss/no-decision threesome, no-decision is the enemy, fearsome enough to make the list of top sales trend for 2013.
One defense against the slow death that is no-decision? Tackling the hassle factor in buyers’ organizations. With companies focused on demanding purchases that support strategic initiatives, who can blame prospects for feeling overwhelmed and letting deals fade away?
It’s sales’ job to eliminate the hassles – or try to. Consultants say that by tweaking the approach and working with buyers to create context for products and services, sales can likely keep more deals in play — and no-decision at bay.
So What’s Our Strategy?
Coaching prospects on the inner workings of their companies and how to sell internally is a new model for sales that’s a stark departure from the past, says David Brock, founder and CEO of Partners in Excellence, a Mission Viejo, Calif., consultancy.
In the old model, management allocated money for products and services in exchange for a reasonable business case. Even pretty good requests could find funding.
No more. “The rules have changed,” says Brock. Now, departmental and business leaders need to be able to articulate how proposed purchases fit within their companies’ strategic initiatives. Selling, it seems, isn’t just sales’ job any more.
No Sales, Please, We’re Engineers
For buying organizations, that means new and not necessarily welcome responsibilities. Many customers are unaware of the new order and its more expansive perspective, and among those who do recognize it, more than a few dismiss the perceived returns.
To them, casting purchase proposals within a larger corporate context isn’t worth the trouble. They’re sales-averse — and proud of it.
Brock says his clients frequently sell into IT, manufacturing, and engineering and product development departments, where they run headlong into engineers fundamentally offended by the idea of selling but now expected to do it in order to implement products and services.
“Sales can offer a huge amount of leadership here,” points out Brock, adding that sales organizations need to transcend customers’ discomfort and ensure they understand what needs to be done.
“Salespeople should be initiating conversations with customers about their companies’ core initiatives. What are the core initiatives? How does a product or service relate to it?”
Sell Local, Think Global
Making the shift is more than an opportunity for sales, says Tibor Shanto, principal at sales consulting and training firm Renbor Sales Solutions in Thornhill, Ontario.
“It’s a must.” Shanto points out that many large companies are creating global standards that diminish the value of the traditional local selling relationships. The relationship-building that flourished within the regional sales model no longer works, he says.
“Selling is about understanding global strategies and presenting products in a way that promotes the strategies,” says Shanto.
Get a Clue — Soon
Preserving the sales message as customers carry it forward on their own, though, is tricky, points out Score More Sales’ Lori Richardson, who works with sales teams in $100-million-and-under companies.
“You need to find ways for someone in a company to share your information yet maintain your messaging,” says Richardson. She suggests using tools such as Postwire, which combine supporting materials like PowerPoint presentations, video, PDF documents, and case studies into a shareable portfolio.
Educating buyers and providing context for them has another important upside: It highlights mismatches, cluing in sales much sooner to poor fits between their products and services and prospective clients.
“A lot of salespeople waste time going after something that might turn into something,” says Richardson. “I coach salespeople that a ‘yes’ is a wonderful thing, but ‘no’ is second best. There’s nothing worse than a slow ‘no.’”