Sales organizations, large and small, spend millions of dollars annually on sales process, sales methodologies and sales training and more often than not end up disappointed with their ability to improve their overall sales results. They’ll often assume that the primary problem is that they chose the wrong sales effectiveness firm to work with and they’ll choose another firm – only to find that the same problems continue to exist. In reality, unless they can find the root cause of the sales deficiency, they’ll continue to chase their tail, and spend far too much money doing so.
Losing key opportunities is not a one dimensional challenge. Based on my experience in working with many different sales organizations and coaching hundreds of pursuit teams over the past 20 years, I’ve concluded that there is a short list of the most common causes for losses:
- Sales and Sales Management Talent – If you don’t have the right people in the organization – you’ll lose too often. You could have the best products and a great sales methodology and you’ll still lose far more often than you can afford. If you ask me to choose which kind of talent is more important to sales results, I’d argue it’s sales management without hesitation. The reason: great sales managers will hire great sales people, will develop B players into A’s and will move C players out of the business as quickly as practical.
- Sales and Marketing Strategy – There are several components in this category that can contribute to excellence (or mediocrity):
- Segmentation – do you have clarity on the ideal target markets and clients that represent the best fit for your solution? If not, you could have a great weapon but when aimed at the wrong target will often result in shooting something near and dear to you (like your foot!)
- Solutions – do you have the right solution? Is it a solution that the market needs and has a reasonably competitive price/value equation? If not, the greatest sales and/or sales management team you can find will not overcome this liability.
- Sales and marketing tools – do you have the collateral, case studies, tools, and roadmap that you provide your sales teams to make them as efficient and as effective as possible? Without these tools, your sales reps will “wing it” to see what works and you won’t leverage the lessons learned that your best sales people employ to win.
- Or, consider the biggest root cause of losing deals you can’t afford to lose: you lack effective deal strategy and coaching disciplines. When deal coaching is done well, a lot of the problems outlined above can be mitigated because:
- We get out of deals we don’t belong chasing – particularly early in the buying and selling process
- You’ll see, first-hand, the strengths and weaknesses of the sales people and managers on your team that you don’t otherwise witness
- You’ll get a lot smarter about how to understand your competitor’s tactics and then be in a position to defeat your key competitors and leverage this knowledge to the myriad of other deals in which you compete against these same, highly predictable competitors.
- And most importantly, deal strategy sessions allow us to win more than our fair share of new business!
What about you? Do you know why you’re losing deals you can’t afford to lose? Are you comfortable with the approach your sales teams are taking to strategize on your most important opportunities?
Stay tuned for future installments on this critical (and common) weakness!
I always welcome your comments.