“Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.” – Miguel Angel Ruiz
I really love to dance, but I don’t seem to find time to hit the floor as much as I’d like to these days. It’s funny that when I was younger I wasn’t very good. Then I hit a late growth spurt, learned some new moves, found some good partners, and things started to make sense. I stopped seeing the dance floor as something to be endured and instead made it my own. I overcame the fear of embarrassment and things suddenly fell into place. I got right with the rhythm.
I’ve been thinking about rhythm and dancing alot lately. ( Of course I’ve always been accused of believing that we can solve all the world’s problems if we throw a good shindig.) I’ve been mulling over the fact that every organization has a characteristic rhythm in place. This rhythm is initiated by the CEO and senior management, but driven by every member of the company. Everyone makes a contribution…everybody’s got their own step in the dance. Now with the turning of the leaves this rhythm’s changed again. We appear to be busier in some ways, but most of us are languishing in the typical fall malaise.
The simple truth is that we’ve begun treating 2012 as a foregone conclusion. “Let’s focus on closing what’s in the pipeline!” or “No one does business after Halloween…”
Keep on Steppin’!
Vamos my people! Let’s kick it up a notch and turn that dial “up to eleven!” I’m going old school and calling you out! Stop waiting on everyone else and kick a beat:
Are you in sync with your partner?
Call an impromptu, informal PipelineReview meeting with a colleague you don’t know very well or who you haven’t collaborated with recently. You’ll both benefit from fresh perspectives and unique approaches to the Sales Steps.
Call / email every single prospect in your pipeline directly. Step up and make the “go” or “no go” determination as soon as possible and then communicate it up the chain. Your initiative will serve you well young grasshopper and distinguish you from the herd!
Stack the deck for 2013 hermano! Follow the (or create a new) Lead Generation process and schedule some new stuff. Don’t let conversations end with some vague next steps and get those prospects on your calendar. Use (or create a new) Lead Nurturing process to keep them informed and interested until the new year.
Learn some new moves brother!
How does that guy get President’s Club (top producer) every year?
What are all those options available in your organization’s CRM software that you never bothered to learn about?
What’s the latest buzz in the procurement world? How about reviewing your organization’s RFP / RFQ / RFI process and template(s)?
Face your fears Luke…
In which part of the Sales Process are you weakest? Can’t generate leads? Can’t close? Proposals indecipherable? Don’t use the demos effectively?
Don’t be afraid to borrow what works for others. Use phrases, demos, techniques etc. from successful people but spin them your way.
Own it! Accept responsibility! Give explanations, not excuses!
What a great movie! What a great scene! Alec Baldwin laying down the law. But for those of us in Sales, it’s not really that funny. The conclusions that most people draw from this scene are actually…completely false. Yet it does strike a chord with many of us- it’s time to close…
I’ve sat through some of the most painful meetings at the end of a quarter or the end of the year. The folks in senior management have threatened, reasoned, rationalized, and even pleaded for their salespeople to make things happen. Their most common question is “why not now?” and most salespeople answer…”budget cuts, challenging conditions…” We’ll leave the details of forecasting and pipeline vitals for future posts, but for now I’d like to focus on what brother Alec calls his “ABCs” or “always, be, closing”
Anyone who’s been involved in Sales knows that it’s a lengthy process with alot of preparation, many steps (or phases), and a long timeline. Even though I don’t have as much experience as many “closers”, I will share the simple questions I was taught to determine if, how, when, and why a purchase would take place. It’s not important in which order they’re answered, only that they’re answered honestly:
Need– Why would the prospect want your product, service, solution? Is it mission critical for their business, i.e. will they shut down tomorrow without it, or is it nice to have? Ninety nine percent of what’s sold falls in the latter category, so you better move on to the next questions…
Time-frame– When are they going to pull the trigger, ring the bell, or “sign on the line that is dotted…?” This is the most difficult question for most salespeople and/or senior management because it relates to forecasting and also accountability. It should be addressed earlier rather than later and any dates given should be treated with extreme skepticism. I remember a former boss, Mike, who drove home the importance of this question to me. He’d stare at me with his merciless Irish-eyes and say “you promised me $35K…I rolled it up to the Board! Get out your checkbook Pablo…”
Authority– Who are you speaking with and selling to? Does this person have the “juice” to make it happen? All too often salespeople do a great job of selling…to the wrong person. I was taught to ask this question in many ways…repeatedly- “who else needs to be involved in making this decision with you..???’ Hey! Let’s get them involved now!
Money– I purposely avoided saying the word “budget” here because it makes me grind my teeth and get the shakes. This is one of the toughest questions to ask, confirm, and believe. I’ve seen alot of prospects be “mistaken” about where their budget(s) were for the year. It’s here that a salesperson needs to get creative and add measurable value to the potential engagement / sale, not panic and start discounting. They’re no easy solutions for this question, but that’s why we’re in Sales…
Willingness– Many sales engagements end in..”no decision”. The prospect gradually grows colder and eventually stops communicating. The opportunity sits on the pipeline until senior management forces it off. I say you’ve got to be direct- Are they buying…now? Why not next quarter or next year? Have all the other questions be answered? Pick up that coffee and start closing people! Happy Hunting!