My readers, like my clients, come from a wide range of industry backgrounds, and are at different stages in their careers, and tracking many different goals. The one thing that unites most of us is a desire to improve, to develop, to achieve, and to win.
Down Deep Inside
Self-reflection – honest self-reflection, that is – is definitely one of the most powerful tools you can use to improve your performance. But so is being able to seek out and receive advice. My clients come to me to help with everything from improving their prospecting and closing as individuals through to setting up, managing, and improving a large sales team, and starting and growing a business. But I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new techniques so that I’m always on a path to becoming the best I can be.
One thing I’ve been doing this week is re-reading a brilliant book by Mike Weinberg called “New Sales. Simplified”. Revisiting great resources is something I like to do because it’s amazing how often we think we’re doing what we were taught, but actually we’ve veered a little off the path!
I was triggered to fire up my Kindle by a question from a subscriber to my Saturday Sales email. I’d been writing about knowing and understanding the length of your sales cycle. This reader was struggling with low numbers of prospect conversions, and it struck me that they had become what Mike calls a “Prisoner of Hope”.
Many salespeople get themselves into this situation as we rush towards the end of the year. It’s human nature to overestimate the chances of success, but if you really want to hit your targets you’ve got to do some more of that self-reflection that can sometimes be a little painful!
So how can you ensure that what’s in your pipeline are solid prospects and you’re not being held prisoner by leads you hope might convert? Here are some things you should know about your prospects that will help you to qualify them as strong candidates for a sale.
What does your prospect really want?
What’s the driver behind them looking to buy? What do they want, what’s the problem they need to solve? If they are a good sales prospect there has to be a driver for them to complete.
What is their timeline?
You’re very lucky if it coincides with you! In order to rely on this prospect to hit a target, you must know if they have some urgency to resolve their issue and if they are able to act before your deadline.
What is their decision-making process?
This is a key one. Is your prospect the sole person who can give the nod, or do they need to confer (or refer) to someone else? How long will the decision-making process take?
How did your sales meeting go?
Here we go again, more brutal self-reflection! I told you it was important… You have to be honest with yourself about how the meetings with your prospect have gone. Have you been getting good engagement and some buy-in? Does it seem like some momentum is building? Or are you just kidding yourself that it all went well, with great buying signals, and a signed contract next week is virtually a done deal?
Why should they buy from you?
Woah! That seems a bit harsh. But it’s a really valid question. Why should they buy from you? Why would they want what you’re offering? If you can’t answer this clearly, then either they can’t either, or you haven’t asked enough questions to know the answer.
Here’s a video where I’ve covered the BANT model to help you quality your prospects for sales success: BANT is perfect bar the NEED should be replaced with WANT or PROBLEM.
Need is never as strong a desire as a want. I don’t need a Caribbean holiday. I want one. I don’t need a new BMW car, I want one. You get the idea!
Ready to Question
So, as you can see, there are lots of questions you need to ask yourself about your pipeline to see if it’s ore substance than hope. But did you also notice a theme? Most of these questions are ones you should have been putting to your prospects right at the start of your relationship. If you make sure that you know the answers to all these questions within the first couple of interactions you will have a much more accurate assessment of how productive your pipeline is going to be in any given timeframe.
So, thanks once again to the email subscriber who got in touch for a chat about their own pipeline and sparked this discussion and got me to revisit one of my favourite sales authors. I really enjoy hearing from you about your successes and learning points, and hearing your ideas for any topics you’d like me to cover in these blogs, my Saturday Sales emails, or on the YouTube channel. As ever, you can get in touch with me by email via firstname.lastname@example.org or through any of the social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube – just search for ‘jameswhitesales’.