Begin with the End in Mind

Stephen Covey writes The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People of which I consider a primer for any sales leader.  My favorite habit is the second one which is Begin with the End in Mind.  Covey frames this Habit in the form of a personal or organizational mission statement. We as sales leaders can take this statement and can create a vision of success for our prospects.

The typical buying process for an organization goes as such:

  • Re-tool and Define Strategy at the C-Level
  • Resources Allocated to Reinforce Strategy at the VP Level
  • Define Requirements at the Director Level
  • Vendors Selected & Present Solution at the Director / User Level
  • Vendor of Choice Selected at VP Level
  • Approval at the C-Level
  • Implement Solution at the Director / User Level
  • Incorporate Solution to Reinforce Strategy at the VP Level
  • Gauge Success of the Project at the VP and C Level

Many of you reading this are thinking, “if it were only that easy.” At no point in time does a company decide on a decision-making process or account for the internal politics that such a project will create.   That topic is for another time and there is a good book that I can recommend on navigating a complex sale.  The point in highlighting an organization’s buying process is the last bullet, “Gauge Success of the Project.”

When we as vendors are brought in (and after every person in the organization was able to add their wish list to the RFP) what is our goal when we present our solution?  Usually it is to become the vendor of choice of the users and directors.  However, if you want to make an impact early, get on the same page of your customers and sell the way that they buy. 

The strategy and resource allocation is coming from the VP and C-Levels along with the decision and the approval.  Even without beginning with the end in mind you should recognize the risk to the ones who win.  (Have you ever seen a don’t blame me bumper sticker?) However, to truly align yourself with your prospect we need to understand how our solution will reinforce the strategy of the C-level and by what metrics will our project be gauged successful.

By speaking to the decision-makers and approvers in a language they understand and linking our solution to reinforcing their strategy – we will differentiate ourselves and win big deals.


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