“Selling is a skill, you either have it or you don’t.” While this statement contains an element of truth, it’s not absolute. The days of relying on charisma and charm are long gone. Many of today’s sales reps carry the burden of studying and educating a full team of buyers. On top of that, they are expected to deliver a completely personalized experience. So how does one juggle multiple complex opportunities, make quota, and also live up to today’s elevated standard?
Obviously, the best way to win a deal is to be the best solution for your buyers’ problem. Sound oversimplified? The key is to NOT assume that the “perfect offering” will speak for itself. It’s the sales rep’s job to understand the buyer’s core need, then underline how their “perfect offering” solves that problem and the value it will deliver. To pull this off requires a deep understanding of your buyer’s situation and master-level time management, prioritization, and communication skills.
Below we’ve outlined 7 key steps to help a first-time seller apply these skills to their sales process and master the opportunities in their pipeline:
1. Set benchmarks for your sales cycle. Most sales organizations will establish stages to track opportunities through the pipeline. It’s important to understand what those stages mean and actually track your opportunity as it travels through those stages. This will help you identify progress and victories along the way and also help establish when the lead’s gone cold so that you don’t waste energy on a dead opportunity.
2. Evaluate your opportunities and prioritize your focus. If everything is a priority, then nothing is. While casting a wide net can prove fruitful in some situations, in a complex buying situation you need to be attentive and precise. To be successful in that, it’s critical to make sure you’re focusing on the right opportunities. This doesn’t mean focus on the opportunities with the biggest dollar signs. Instead, evaluate if the buyer is truly a good fit. Is your solution truly solving their problem? Is the buyer looking for something turn-key, or is the deal at least large enough to be worth custom work? Are they a partner that could help move the business in the direction leadership wants it to go? If you can answer “yes” to at least two of those questions, then the opportunity should be a priority.
3. Identify the critical issue(s). Once you’ve established the opportunity is a good fit, hone in on the specifics of your offering that will deliver the most value. It’s easy to get carried away showing off the bells and whistles of a solution, but at the end of the day, the buying team wants to know one thing: “are you going to solve my problem?” In your messaging and communications, be sure to always drive home the biggest business value you’re bringing.
4. Build a playbook to anticipate twists and turns. One thing you may notice when working with larger buying teams is that they rarely agree on what their biggest problem is. This is especially true if you’re dealing with different roles, or departments. Know what’s important to each member of your audience. This will help you build a connection between the value of your offering and each member of your buying team.
5. Utilize your resources – don’t reinvent the wheel. Be aware of the resources available to you. Many reps waste countless hours recreating materials for sales presentations. Chances are, your content contributors or colleagues have encountered similar situations and already created support materials. Repurpose the meat and personalize the details. If locating and accessing content is something that is a challenge for your organization, consider a better sales asset management (SAM) solution. An advanced solution will not only helo you centralize and organize your content, but also allow you to search, to integrate with your CRM data, and even use your opportunity’s situational data in CRM to recommend resources and materials to present.
6. Review your progress and analyze what’s working. If you don’t already have a tracking system in place, start looking. How can you improve if you have zero insight into what’s working and what’s not? Find a solution that will not only make it easy to create and share materials with your buying team, but also track your buyers’ engagement with the sent collateral. This provides sales with powerful insight for their follow up, but ultimately can help marketing when they review and update the sales assets. Imagine how effective you could be if you knew exactly which pieces were gaining traction and which ones were stopping you cold? Some systems will also expose a file’s usage among your colleagues, or allow the sales community to rate the content.
7. Be Ready and Responsive. Speaking of advanced tracking systems, find a solution that allows you to track you buyers’ engagement in real time. This gives you the power to respond immediately, and with a follow up that’s on target with what they’ve actively expressed interest in. This will completely change your sales game.