October 5

How To Finish The Year Strong – STOP then Start

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Feeling the pressure? It’s 4th quarter and year-end sales goals must be achieved while setting up an epic Q1 of next year. More than one sales leader will shout the following battle cry to their sales team:  

Put your foot on the gas and go.

My suggestion:  Put your foot on the brake. Park the “sales car” and make sure your sales team is following the right GPS directions to achieve sales goals. Trust me, the last thing you need at this time of the year is a sales team that is REALLY busy driving down dead-end roads.

STOP. THINK. ANALYZE. ADAPT.

Work with each member of your sales team and conduct an informal win loss analysis. Eliminate any excuses and examine why and where previous deals did not get across the finish line. Insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results. STOP the insanity.  

AND, here’s the coaching twist. Examine both the soft skills and hard skills that need a tune up. The presenting problem is not the real problem. As a sales leader, it’s critical that you figure out where to apply your coaching efforts.  

For example, you and your salesperson discover that the investment step of his/her sales process is where deals get stuck or fall out of the funnel.

The presenting problem is never the real problem.

Dig deeper. Is deal fallout due to:  

·Lack of soft skills. Your salesperson may lack the EQ skill of assertiveness. They aren’t good at uncovering the prospect's budget before writing a proposal. When a prospect says, “I have no idea. Just put something together,” your salesperson defaults to passive-aggressive selling behaviors. She goes along to get along, writing a proposal that is headed directly to the proposal graveyard. She’s missing sales goals because she is wasting time with prospects that are not willing, able or committed to investing the dollars to eliminate a pain or achieve a goal.  

In this case, focus your efforts on improving this salesperson’s assertiveness, the ability to state what she needs nicely. And what she needs is a qualified opportunity! Lack of assertiveness often stems from fear. In this coaching scenario, your coaching conversation might involve  further conversations around the fear: fear of missing out, the fear of rocking the boat or the fear of not being liked.  

·Lack of hard skills. Deals are falling apart at this selling stage because THE SALESPERSON SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. The real selling challenge isn’t at the budget selling stage, it’s the prospecting stage. The prospect should not have been put in the sales funnel or at the very least, stayed in the sales funnel.

Your salesperson isn’t crystal clear on your ideal client profile. This salesperson needs a refresher course on your ICP, one that includes asking the right qualifying questions to vet opportunities.  

Let’s look at another scenario. You and the salesperson discover that deals fall out at the proposal stage. The salesperson is consistently losing to the same competitor or the hidden competitor, status quo.

The presenting problem is not the real problem.

What’s the root cause for deal fallout? Is it:   

·Lack of soft skills. Your salesperson lacks the self-confidence to bring up the sales elephant in the room. They aren’t comfortable asking truth telling questions such as, “You’ve been working with XYZ company for five years. You and I have identified areas for improvement, but let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Does investing in these improvements give you the ROI within a necessary timeframe?” The truth will set your salesperson free and free up time for him to pursue qualified opportunities.

Effective coaching will include conversations around self-limiting beliefs that hold salespeople from bringing up the “sales elephant” in the room. It includes role-plays around having these more direct, truth telling conversations so the salesperson appears confident and competent.

·Lack of hard skills. Perhaps your salesperson isn’t investing enough time in pre-call planning. He isn’t taking time to identify the gaps in the competitors offering. Hard to point out a gap if you don’t know the gap. Or, your salesperson is engaged in good research, however, struggles to translate that into compelling questions, insights or value propositions.

Now, your coaching efforts will be roll up your sleeves. Review the basics of solid pre-call planning. Teach your seller the frameworks behind effective questions and value propositions. Role-play is critical because sales conversations must sound genuine, not canned or scripted.

It’s the end of the year. Encourage your team to put their foot on the gas as long as they remember to occasionally hit the brakes and follow these crucial selling steps: STOP. THINK. ANALYZE. ADAPT.

Good Selling!


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