We spend lots of time and money trying to create predictable revenue, increasing the predictability of our sales approaches. We constantly engineer, refine, tune and re-engineer what we do and how we engage our customers to produce POs.
We optimize our efforts, looking to be as efficient as possible, achieving what we do in the fastest time and lowest cost of selling possible. And every once in a while we also look at effectiveness...
But, if we look at most data, it’s not working, or at least as well as we hope. Fewer people are achieving plan, though they are following the “formulas.” Customers are deferring engaging sales later and later in the process (which for some reason we like, because it reduces our time and costs, making us more efficient.)
The percentage of customers with budget and an intent to buy that end up making no decision, other than to keep doing what they always have exceeds those who are buying. They still have the need, but they just couldn’t navigate themselves to a conclusion.
And virtually every survey shows how little too many customers value sales interactions. I’m interested to see a question on a survey, “Choose your least favorite activity, going to the dentist or talking to a sales person.” I think most of us know the answer. (And I’m a sales person at heart.)
As we see these trends, it’s amazing that we don’t redefine how we look at the problem–that is helping customers achieve their goals, solve their problems, resulting in buying.
What rather than looking at making selling more predictable, we changed our thinking to make buying more predictable—both for the customer and, as a result, for us.
When you start analyzing it, it’s really not that complicated–but somehow we and our customers make it so. But we would consider the following:
You can see, there are a lot of things the customer(s) is struggling with. There are a lot of things that derail the process, slow it down, cause it to zig-zag, and back track on itself.
Usually, as sales people we are oblivious to this. Because we focus on the predictability of what we do and our selling motions. We aren’t paying attention to, we aren’t asking, we aren’t establishing the connection with the customer to understand what they are going through and concerned about.
Or maybe, it’s simply we don’t care! We care more about what we are trying to achieve, not realizing we achieve nothing if the customer doesn’t achieve their goals!
But the only way we can make revenue and selling predictable is to make buying more predictable.
Ironically, we have a huge ability to help the customer with all the issues outlined above. After all, we’ve gone through dozens, hundreds, and thousands of situations before. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work.
We know how similar customers have dealt with similar issues.
We know the answers or how to help the customer discover the answers. And by doing this, ultimately giving the customer confidence in their decision, we create the most differentiated and sustainable value possible!
It’s amazing how much clarity we get by changing the way we look at things. Perhaps the best question we should be asking ourselves is:
How do we make buying more predictable!
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.