Michael was excited recently when one of his long-standing technology clients asked Michael to groom a talented new sales professional who had graduated from a local University and joined their team in an acquisition sales territory. Michael immediately accepted the assignment and begin the grooming process. As they worked together, Michael shared with his protégé a long list of Sales Best Practices that he’s documented during his long corporate career and in the last decade that he has been coaching Sales Managers and Sales Teams. This series of articles on Sales Best Practices is the culmination of Michael emptying out the bin of fantastic sales behaviors he’s identified over the years. We hope you enjoy the series and find the Best Practices valuable to you and to your sales team.
Create Value By Asking The Important Questions When you are paying attention you can let your curiosity guide you to ask the questions that help you to guide your prospect through the sales process in a way that creates extraordinary value for them and for you. Your questioning methodology must be designed to discover and quantify the pains that your prospects want to eliminate, or the benefits and advantages that they want to increase. Your questions should be designed to help you and the prospect understand the core business drivers that are leading to them pursuing a solution to their business problem or taking advantage of a specific business opportunity. Realize that your job is to identify the prospect’s business need and you are only to sell them something when your product or service offering is going to create value for the customer in the long run. Your objective should be to provide valuable solutions that drive your prospect’s business forward toward a sustainable competitive advantage for their business.
Understand The Purchasing And Procurement Process Always understand how the purchasing decisions are made and what the procurement process looks like before you get too far down the sales path. You must also understand how purchasing approval works, and how you will be able to position and present your solution to the purchasing team. Ideally, you need to identify the entire process well before you get to the stage where you are beginning to craft your solution and begin to build your quotations, proposals, and planning for your presentation of your offering. Your solution should be positioned and offered so that your value is clearly positioned and differentiated. It is imperative that your value proposition is understood completely before the purchasing decision is made. Position yourself for success, whatever the purchasing and procurement processes are, and you increase your conversion rate.
Forecasting Pipeline: Predicting The Future Consistently Understand that the rest of the business depends upon your performance to bring in revenue and margin to keep the wheels turning and keep the growth coming. Produce accurate and dependable sales pipeline forecast reports and your prestige and reputation will grow along with your influence. You must realize that the leadership team of your company must make effective and timely business decisions based on accurate data from the revenue forecast. Inaccurate data will make decision-making a crap shoot, at best. Study your pipeline data like a data analyst and learn your tendencies over time so that you can become highly accurate in calling your forecast for the month or quarter. With time you ought to be able to regularly forecast your results to within 5% of the actual result, and you’ll find that the Leadership team will support you vigorously when you do. If you become a Sales Leader one day, you’ll succeed or fail based on your ability to know that when your sales team commits to a deal, it will close 90-95% of the time when they said it would. Businesses must become predictable to be able to run effectively. Update your CRM system with accurate data and do it in a timely fashion to help your teammates to collaborate with you to maximum effectiveness.
Collaborate With And Learn With Teammates Share best sales practices among your entire sales team, regularly. Build a culture of teamwork with your entire sales team, creating mutual respect and mutual encouragement, and support as soon as you can. Try to help your organization make the sales meetings as valuable as possible. Sales meetings should not be about drudgery or covering the backsides of your sales management team. Rather, sales meetings ought to be about motivating the team and identifying areas where they need to gather support and streamline the selling process so that it leads to the conversion of opportunities into wins more often. Sales meetings must help the team to win deals that are at the heart of achieving their expected revenue and margin goals. If the sales meeting isn’t leading to greater sales success then it must not be working. Celebrate success whenever you find it, when someone has won a deal, be happy for them. Make a big deal of your teammates when they have a moment of ingenuity or success. They’ll love it, and you’ll feel good about spreading the positivity too!
Be Careful About How You Hunt Every sales professional needs to hunt. More importantly, you need to hunt in a balanced fashion. Hunt elephants (giant deals) selectively, and choose them carefully to ensure that you’re hunting the elephants that you can bring down to grow your company to the next level. Don’t be myopic and ONLY hunt elephants, or you’ll regret it soon enough. When you lose one or two elephants (which will happen to even the BEST sales professionals…) you and your teammates will starve. Hunt more gazelles (small and medium-sized deals) than elephants. My recipe for balance would be this; hunt gazelles daily and hunt elephants weekly or monthly. That proportion will help you to stay balanced in your approach and ensure that you are bringing down enough gazelles to keep your children fed. You’ll win the occasional elephant and have a terrific month or quarter when you do, and you’ll avoid starving when the hunting for elephants is not good because you and not EXCLUSIVELY hunting for elephants.
And so it goes…With each week that goes by, our emerging sales star is beginning to make more substantive progress toward sales mastery. She is gaining confidence that she can use her curiosity to ask illuminating sales questions to help guide the prospect to the right solution. She is understanding the purchasing and decision-making processes so she maximizes her ability to manage her way through them to maximize her wins. She is forecasting her future performance like a pro and sharing best sales practices with her teammates. Finally, she is being very careful not to get so in love with elephant hunting that she and her team, and her family starve when elephant hunting is off. Check back with us next week for our concluding article about this talented Emerging sales pro. Follow her as she ascends to the leaderboard at her new company.
Michael is an award-winning Master Coach, certified by the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. Michael’s firm, Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting features five coaches in the United States, helping fast-growth technology companies and small and medium businesses with Executive Development and Leadership. MBCC’s coaches also provide health and wellness and traditional business coaching and consulting services. Michael’s firm is one of the best in the world at developing Emerging Leaders so that they can rise to the challenges and opportunities of a first management position in their career. If you’re interested in more information, check out www.michaelbeachcoach.com or email us at email@example.com. You can also learn a lot about leadership by checking out Michael’s podcast for Leaders and Emerging Leaders, “What Are You Doing?” Podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts. You may also want to check out Michael’s free videos about leadership and Business Best Practices on Youtube…