Key Sales Lessons I Learned in 2013

Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Fearless Selling, Sales | 0 comments

Wow! I can’t believe another year has come and gone! I don’t know about you but I found this past year to be a very an interesting one. As I reflected back on the last twelve months I thought about the lessons I learned working with my clients. Here are five of them.

The decision making process is getting more complicated

If you sell an enterprise solution or software as a service (SaaS), the decision making process for your prospects is complicated. It is rare that one person makes the final buying decision without consulting other people in the company. In fact, several people are often involved in smaller buying decisions.

Plus, in some situations, your prospect may not even know who else needs to be involved in the decision making process which means you may have to help them figure that out. If you disregard or ignore this you could end up spinning your wheels and wasting your time.

They can find the budget

This past year I worked with a company that did not originally budget for the training initiative we eventually embarked upon. However, they saw a need and opportunity to improve their business so they found the money to fund the project. I learned three key lessons from this.

1. It is critical to probe deep enough to discover the true impact of your prospect’s pain and the implications of not taking action.

2. You need to position your solution in such a manner that the outcome outweighs the cost.

3. You have to deal with the right people.

Take the elevator to the executive suite

The only people who can approve unbudgeted expenditures are senior executives. I always knew this, at least intrinsically, but it was definitely confirmed with the project I mentioned in the previous point.

My key contact person was a mid-level manager and I convinced him to connect me with the VP of Sales. After a face-to-face meeting and several telephone conversations she was able to maneuver the deal and make it happen.

One champion is not enough

I watched a few deals go sideways this past year because the sales person relied on a single person in the company.

In one situation, the key champion left the company just before the contract was signed which left the sales person grasping at straws to close the deal. In another case, the sale went to a competitor because that salesperson enlisted the support of multiple people in the company compared to the single champion my client’s sales person had developed.

You can’t take shortcuts

In my last post, I discussed a deal I lost because I tried shortcutting the discovery process. I should have known better!

It is our responsibility as sales professionals to control the sales process. If we take shortcuts or try to fast-track a deal, we end up shortchanging ourselves and our prospects. It is critical to invest the necessary amount of time at each stage of the sales process and if your prospect is unwilling to give you this time, it may sense to move on to another opportunity.

What about you? What lessons did you learn this past year?