One of the most significant challenges for today's organizations is sales execution. Selling in today's environment is chaotic; a well thought out sales process never proceeds precisely to plan. There is a constant introduction of disruptive change, market-altering technological innovations, and clients are always being sold to with offerings that have little differentiation; this all contributes to the frustration of buyers.
A proven objective for success is the ability for organizations to link enterprise strategy, client relationships, and the overall sales approach revenue to achieve business growth. To be proficient with this organizational ability to execute enterprise selling, teams need to be proficient at the following critical success factors.
Companies are chasing clients that are not best suited for their company business plan or fit the solution that they are providing. This miss-alignment wastes valuable productive sales time and produces a low probability of success. Lack of client personas creates a self-inflicted sense of desperation to close an unattractive opportunity and make concessions that jeopardize future business.
Having a client persona gives an organization the ability to be unique in the market by addressing the personality of the client rather than being another vendor. It will also be the grounding for thought leadership to your client while other vendors are displaying their products rather than solving the client's real problems. Having a persona will also align senior management with your client's personnel presenting your companies value.
The organization must possess the skills to analyze the sales performance data and have a deep understanding of the characteristics of all the relationships involved in making the outcome successful. Firms need to evaluate both the sales they win and the sales they lose to understand the financial positives and negatives of the types of customers that they do business with, allowing focus on the right customers and execute on your strategy and business plan.
If there is no clarity of the client's buying process, companies will invest and miss the optimum timing for that investment. Management experiences unplanned additional investments that are required to Win. When a client buying process and your sales processes are out of sync, increased losses are a by-product.
By having an understanding of the client buying process, organizations will realize improved effectiveness of sales investments and improved sales forecasts. The enhanced understanding will also enable executing tactics to enhance positions that insulate against a loss.
Firms need the discipline to acquire and document the culture of their client's buying process. Sales reps need to create a proactive environment so that clients recognize their behavior is customer-centric and not self-centered. By displaying this behavior, clients are more open and transparent in their response creating an environment for deepening the understanding. Once the knowledge is clear, the follow-up needs to be continuous and responsive. To acquire and maintain this culture and discipline, companies need to implement ongoing mentoring of their organizations
Many sales situations of today create client relationships from within the sales pursuit. Although this is not bad, however, it does not allow your company the opportunity to cultivate a deep relationship strategy with your client genuinely. Having the deal as the filter can cause salespeople to assume that the contacts they have are correct, and they rely too much on their gut feeling rather than qualifying clients against their business and personal motivation.
Client relationship development should start with creating a relationship map which will highlight the issues each person has and set out to deepen your understanding of that person and what their motivations are. By having a relationship mapping strategy, you are in a better position to place your critical executives with influential decision-makers, which can help frame the sales issues rather than acting like a salesperson. Having key relationships will also allow you to influence future opportunities that are not on the current client project list, which will give you insider status for future business.
The attitude for building an influential relationship is much different from positioning your product and service; it relies on a keen ability to listen and evaluate what the client is asking. Empathy is a skill that can be learned but requires an organization to pattern it throughout the sales process. Having the resources who understand how empathy plays a part in the successful sales engagement will assist an organization in developing the overall skill.
When the competitive analysis is inadequate, we generally find organizations unable to win against incumbents, which leads to surprise losses and poor win-rates. Inadequate analysis causes a lack of discipline and knowledge on how to develop sales tactics for winning that include traps for the competition.
An excellent competitive analysis will ultimately improve the position of your companies' offering that can accomplish changing the rules of a sales pursuit. The organization will be better able to position your company's unique benefits and indirectly point out the flaws that exist in your competition.
Competitive analysis is nothing more than a road map that will assist in plotting out a course of action against the competition. Having the information only is not sufficient for a successful outcome; it also requires an experienced map reader to assist in the navigation keeping the sales process away from hazards and attending to all competitive advantages.
Value propositions of today position your company's solution rather than giving the real client benefit within their business. Clients will buy a product or service to improve their business, but unless you position your solution in a way that the client can recognize it as their benefit, they will discount your value. Creating value is a process, and most sales organizations lack the skill to accomplish this task.
Value development requires your sales team first to understand the problem the client is solving and then convert your product and service to that solution highlighting its actual value, not your perception of your worth. Companies who accomplish this exercise will increase win rates and be able to articulate accumulated value to the client and allow you to position more critical deals.
Value creation for a client requires a continuous understanding of how your perceived value resonates within the client organization. The value proposition process requires a discipline and sales experience to test the value proposition continuously and adjust according to your client's receptivity of the compelling benefits.
Often sales organizations miss the mark in their presentations to clients. Some present a solution before understanding the client's problem. These poor presentations create client discontent and lack of credibility. Failure to demonstrate how you can solve the specifics of a client problem will produce many meetings that do not have a meaningful follow-up and damage your chances to advance the sales cycle.
Presentation development correctly deployed enhances credibility, allows for defensibility against the competition, and increases chances for success. Excellent presentations will also improve the use of sales investments and produce better performing sales teams.
Formulating a customer-centric presentation requires an experienced discipline to utilize the culmination of all your client interactions. It needs to articulate the magnitude of the problem, a solution that addresses all attributes of the problem, and a measurable financial value.
For companies today, not using Sales Qualification adequately will find themselves investing in business opportunities that are not real. There will be dissatisfaction with the cost of sales by management, and sales representatives will be missing their targets. Lack of proper Sales Qualification will create deals that have stalled or end up with no client decision. Inadequate metrics in Sales Qualification produce poor sales forecast accuracy and creates a chaotic culture that promotes assigning unrealistic targets to the sales organization.
For the organizations that use a business qualification tool, the chaotic culture will subside. They will find an increase in win-rates, healthier pipelines, and a dramatic improvement in the accuracy of their sales forecast.
Companies need to formulate the right set of questions that people ask and reflect on the answers regarding the alignment of the opportunity to specific qualification evaluation criteria. Implement your sales qualification questions in a tool that sales can access and share information at critical milestones of an opportunity pursuit. Utilizing your formulated questions brings a high degree of objectivity to an opportunity and provides direction to the areas of weakness that need focus and execution.
Most sales organizations are having issues with the rising cost of sales. They are finding that the sales cycle is too long, they are experiencing poor performance with win rates, and the sales support organization is compounding the problem due to lack of understanding of sales and the sales pursuit strategy. The sales strategy is not communicated effectively throughout the organization, leaving senior management out of touch, which leads to sales forecast inaccuracy.
The problem has multiple issues to address and is fixed with a customized formal sales process, which includes goals, a sequence of steps, measured milestones, and a corporate understanding of the process. The formal sales process provides the ability to onboard new salespeople and enable shorter sales cycles with improved win rates and allow you to leverage sales data from your CRM system. By having a consistent process, the organization will be able to communicate with a common language requiring less time in meetings, enable continuous improvement, and address weak areas in both process and skill.
Many clients are experiencing lengthy sales cycles. With this case, we find there are steps missed in the current sales process, causing a communication disconnect between the field force and executive management. By interjecting the right set of experiences into your current sales process, you can mitigate and apply the appropriate course of action.
If you are having issues and challenges with your revenue engine, we would love to consider being with you to accelerate business improvements in your sales function. Contact us at FHS Associates to begin your business improvement!