In part 1 of this blog series, I discussed how top performers are more deliberate and more customer focused than their compatriots. Let’s continue to analyze why "lazy" sales people are so successful and how you can apply these skills to make the rest of the team better.
Do the right things (Sales Process). Use a surgical approach in your steps to align and close deals.
I talk to a lot of companies of which the large majority feels that their sales process is ineffective. While that is awful and needs to change, the “lazy” sales people have a groove that works. So how do you increase sales with less effort?
They follow a process intuitively or explicitly. They realize that the “sales dance” has a sequence that allows both partners to find genuine alignment which sets up a strong relationship. It is critical that steps are performed in sequence to build an ever deeper understanding of each other, the solution and its benefits.
Deliberate salespeople follow these steps, in this order:
1) Needs and Environment: The foundation of a good sales process is understanding the prospect’s needs and environment. This is also a good time to “challenge” and bring in new insights. In this step, asking great questions differentiates the top performers from the pack and saves lots of time downstream by knowing where to focus and what issues to address.
|Customer Risk Assessment Guide
Address the 3 Major Areas of Customer's Concerns
2) Conceptual Solution Fit and ROI: The common sales rep’s “they like me, we’ll get the deal” attitude will get eaten by ROI and benefit calculations every time. To do this step well, you need to understand buyer’s business, what’s important to them and their decision making process. And you have to hear this from the decision maker to be sure.
In this step most weak sales people will shirk from getting to the right people, to their peril. The deal will likely get stuck later when a decision maker is required and they have not been connected to the project. A waste of time that could have been prevented by being more courageous and firm! The effective sales people know this and focus on connecting to the right people.
3) Solution: Drill down to the details of the solution. Make sure everything is complete, work through the details and get agreement. Then send a proposal that documents what you agreed. No surprises. Smart sales people know to sell within the delivery capability of your company to avoid getting dragged into bad implementation.
4) Mutual Closing Agreement: Now they like you so much, you are their preferred choice and they want to check some references to validate what they heard. That’s OK now and would have been wrong prior to this step. Also in this phase, a final legal review may be required. This is the time for the final dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s on both sides. Smart sales people create a mutual closing agreement, documented in an email to map out the remaining steps and timelines. It engenders personal accountability and creates a common goal.
5). Protect and Sign: Almost done. Now it’s time to protect the deal and get signatures. Yours would not be the first deal that fell apart at the altar because it took too long to get signatures done.
6) The close: Absolutely critical to make the hand-off to delivery smooth and ensure the client’s expectations you set in the sales process are met.
The “lazy” sales people keep productive tension throughout the process. It’s not about busy work. Every step needs to make sense to both sides.
Be open. Both of you want the same thing: A successful partnership, at eye-level. For that to work, the sales process needs to be collaborative. For every give there is a take. The average sales person gives too often and doesn’t dare to ask for something in return. They are then no longer at eye-level and have to work harder while getting a worse deal.
On to the secret of the “lazy” and successful sales person:
Lazy salespeople sell more because they have trained themselves to not get “happy ears” based on what a prospect says or spend a lot of time interpreting words. Instead they maniacally focus on observable events and data gathered in the interaction. They understand that each of the steps in the sales process above has gating criteria that need to be met for a step to be successfully completed.
For example, a typical time waster is to get wrapped up in activities that are further downstream while the current step is not met. This often happens with demonstrations which mostly belongs in Step 3. If it’s done earlier, your sales people are likely wasting time.
They intensely qualify and don’t confuse nurturing (activity based, open) with selling (call to action based, decision focused). They follow a sales process that makes it easy for prospects to get aligned and they have a very clear choreography to the alignment dance. Use these guidelines to make your sales process more efficient, allowing you to work smarter, not harder.