- January 22, 2024
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
Have you ever been on the road, lost in thought, just driving down the highway (oh-oh, already sounds like a country song), when you realized you blew past your exit about thirty miles ago? One minute ago everything was perfect and then, all of a sudden, reality sets in and you’ve traveled an hour out of your way.
That exact same thing happens to salespeople on their sales calls. They’re having a great conversation, the prospect needs what you have, there is money available, you’re with the decision maker, and you start making some assumptions about how good this opportunity looks.
If you have a scorecard in your head, it is probably giving you a score of close to 100. If you have an external scorecard, it might also be predicting a win, although the score might be closer to 75-80. And if you have a professionally built, predictive scorecard, like those we create for our clients, the score might be below 60 and warning you that there is a good chance you WON’T get the business!
You probably ended the call with a mind-blowing, spectacularly biased perspective on your likelihood of getting the business and, if forty years in the sales development business has taught me anything, your perspective could be completely wrong.
What did you miss?
The conversation was going so well that you probably didn’t think you needed to ask about the competitors that were speaking with your prospect because well, why would they even need to speak with anyone else, right? I mean, they are so in love with you. So you ended the call and went to work on your proposal, an hours-long proposition in futility.
Last week, I had a conversation like that. It could not have possibly gone any better than it did. But unlike most salespeople, I don’t take anything for granted and I asked and learned they were talking with a number of companies! I asked how many would be able to do everything we talked about – the things the prospect wanted as well as the things I suggested. He said two. I asked if that included us and he revised it to three.
Most salespeople thank the prospect for sharing and then start on their proposals, thinking about what they must do to differentiate. I knew that if I wanted to differentiate, I had more work to do with the prospect, right then and there, while he was still engaged. It was time to ask more questions. I had to learn more about what an ideal partner (never vendor or supplier) would be. It was also time to start using words like “we,” and “collaborate,” and “together,” and “co-create.” How would we work together? What kind of experience were they hoping we could bring to the table? How could we improve on what they had heard from others? What could we do to make his job easier? What would make him look like a hero? Was it more important to preserve their culture or change their culture? And so many more.
One thing that most salespeople are guilty of is voluntarily ending a conversation with more unanswered questions than answered questions. It doesn’t need to be that way either! Instead of taking things for granted, not paying attention, and cruising past your exit, check your surroundings and ask the questions that you forgot, neglected or chose not to ask. It might save you from going out of your way writing a proposal for business that you won’t win.
Enroll in Movie Night for Salespeople and enter discount code Jan23Blog at checkout to receive a $275 discount! You’ll watch the most entertaining scenes from the best movies and TV shows, and learn how to ask more questions, better questions, tougher questions, and differentiate yourself and your company from your competition. The course is movie and TV specific, along with my introductions to each scene and reviews of each scene to make sure you internalized the intended lessons. We are up to 43 scenes and counting, and adding more scenes each week.
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