What Closes the Deal? Sense vs. Source of Urgency

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Isn’t it great when a month ends on a Friday? You get a chance to wrap up both the month and the week in the same day. If you are like most sales people you also get a chance to lean on your prospects just that much more to get the deal in. After all, that’s our source of urgency, making our number by the end of the month. We find ourselves much more motivated (as does the procurement department) because there are negative ramifications if we fail to deliver.

Let’s take that idea and turn it on its head. Do you think our prospects have a source of urgency? Do you think there are negative ramifications for our prospects if they don’t get a solution in place by a certain time? The answer is an unequivocal…..yes! Companies are a lot like individuals in that they won’t make a change until they absolutely have to. For sellers to know if they are in a qualified deal – they need to know why the buyers “have to” make a change.

Many sellers confuse the  “want to” or sense of urgency with the ” have to” source of urgency. A sense of urgency is more often than not tied to our value proposition. As an example:

  • Automating manual processes
  • Better reporting
  • Lowering total cost of ownership
  • Scalability / Flexibility
  • Mitigate Risk
  • Best of breed / Best practice
  • Consolidation
  • Streamline / Ease of use

All companies can benefit from the above and many have a sense of urgency to get them done. A source if urgency however has a date by which these benefits must be implemented because the company (and more importantly a specific individual) will feel a tangible effect if they do not. Examples of sources of urgency are as follows:

  • New facility / market / clientele
  • New executive strategy
  • Capital purchase
  • Board directive
  • Compliance effective date
  • Product launch
  • Merger / Acquisition
  • Negative Press / Federal Investigation
  • Quarterly / Annual Report

Therefore, to better understand if our prospects are going to buy from us we need to know why they will buy from us. Until then, we will continue to be befuddled by their lack of motivation even though we have a perfectly rational value proposition. Start tying your value proposition AND your forecast to a source of urgency. Then you will see your prospects leaning on you to get the deal done and the end of the month will be just another day on the calendar.

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Guest Blogger: Phil Johnson on Why Sales Training Still Doesn’t Work

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Phil Johnson is President of Revenue Revelation – a friend of mine and friend of the firm – The Complex Sale, Inc.  Revenue Revelation specializes in helping organization get the most out of their sales training and are experts on sales adoption / reinforcement.

PhilIf you read Scott’s first installment on this subject, you were probably not surprised by anything he said.  However, when confronted with the realities he cited, you may have gotten one of those “Ah Hah!” moments. More likely it was “DUH! Tell me something I don’t know.” Either way, he points out a problem that has been around for at least the 30 years I have been selling.  I’d like to address the same issue from a slightly different point of view.

It has been said that “People buy from people – people they like and people they trust.”  And to a large extent, I agree with that statement.  I would add that “people buy from people who help them achieve their personal and professional agendas.”  If there are more than one solution, the like and trust factors come into play, but when I am buying something, the main thing is that I spend my time and money on solving whatever issue I have determined to be important and expedient.  It gets very personal when I want it fixed.

Now, back to “Why sales training doesn’t work.”  When was the last time you heard a sales person say something like:

  • “I’m confused by what it takes to sell a solution rather than a product.”
  • “I really need a common vernacular.”
  • “Executives are a mystery to me.  I don’t know what to say to them.”
  • “On a day to day basis, I just don’t have a process to keep the deal moving forward.”

Or when was the last time you heard a sales manager say:

  • “I’m really inconsistent in the way that I manage my people.”
  • “I really don’t add that much value when I am coaching deals.”
  • “When we don’t win enough business – on time – it is mainly because I am not able to leverage my knowledge and apply my experience through clear investigative techniques.  In other words, it is just easier for me to take over the deal than it is for me to use it as a learning experience for my rep.”

Sales training fails at the most common denominator of selling.  It is not designed to solve the stated problem of the participants.  It is not specifically designed to solve personal problems.  The VP’s agenda gets met when the participants show up.  But the sales rep participants rarely confess that they have a problem at all, to do so is a kind of political suicide.  And the first line managers have rarely had enough exposure to the skill sets of leadership to see that they are anything more than “uber sales reps.” Especially now, when the dictate is to just get revenue in the door before the next round of layoffs.

Bottom line: Until the needs are fully defined, clearly articulated, and a desire to solve them is personally expressed by the participants, sales training will never have the impact – over time – that it should have.

Sales Training Doesn’t Work

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This might seam like a fairly unproductive point of view from someone who earns his living training sales people. However, that is precisely why I believe sales training – on its own – doesn’t work. I receive plenty of calls from sales leaders asking us to participate in their sales kick-off because they want one of the following:

•   Move from selling products to solutions
•   Gain a comfort level selling to executives
•   Create a common vernacular through out the sales force
•   Win more deals against the competition

These are lofty goals to accomplish over a 1 to 2 day workshop; so lofty that you can expect the impact to be short-lived and all but forgotten in 3 months. It is akin to going to the gym and asking the trainer to help you lose 10 pounds in one session. You will get a good workout – and most likely will be sore in the morning – but more or less the same weight the day after.

That is why we recommend a longer engagement that incorporates the 1 to 2  day workshop as the centerpiece but has the proper preliminary and follow up steps to hit your goals. I recommend this three step process:

Step One: Assess / Align / Define
We need to understand your sales effectiveness goals and their relative importance to other projects and participants. Sometimes a 24 hour workshop is all our clients have an appetite for. For those looking for sustained improvement, we then want to define the best practices in their sales cycle and incorporate our methodology to create a uniquely tailored process. This will give relevancy and buy-in needed for adoption.

Step Two: Deploy / Enable
This is the 1-2 day workshop where the newly tailored techniques and strategies are revealed to the sales force. We want to make sure that we have incorporated the best practices of the sales cycle / messaging / and methodology into the CRM. These workshops should always be taught using live deals because adults learn best through practical application.

Step Three: Reinforce / Measure
After the workshop has ended and the sales force is re-energized, we want to ensure the new techniques and strategies are transferred back to the office on a deal by deal basis. We test the students on their retention of the material, we track their usage of the tools via the CRM, and we coach their deals using the methodology. Adjustments in coaching and execution training are made based upon retention, application, and effectiveness.

As any good fitness trainer will tell you, you must make a habit out of a healthy lifestyle. The same is true for successful sales organizations. A one and done training event will fill space in a kick-off and will fire up the troops – but it won’t have long lasting impact. That is why sales training on its own doesn’t work.

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