We started the final stage of David Allen’s Getting Things Done process – Act – last week with an examination of the start of the action. There we looked at the four distinct issues the salesperson must address early in the sales cycle if he is to be effective. These issues are the customer, his organization, needs, and budget, and the competition.
That does not mean that a one-time examination of the issues listed is adequate – it is not. These are issues that you need to be constantly re-examining as the sales cycle progresses right up until an award is made because they will change.
You no doubt noted a glaring omission in the list of issues – your solution to the customer’s needs. That is what we will examine in this installment.
You position vis-a-vis the competition is not static. They are constantly trying to improve their position vis-a-vis you, so you had better be acting to maintain and improve your position. Customer’s budgets are not in an escrow account somewhere waiting for the final decision. Until an invoice is submitted and paid, they are in play and at risk based on business vagaries that you’d better be aware of.
In this second stage of acting, addressing your solution for the customer and your relationship with the customer become more and more important. The customer is evolving in their buying cycle from a recognition and definition of their need to an evaluation of possible solutions and an assurance they will fill the need and solve the problem. This is your Proving phase where you persuade the customer that your solution is the best.
How do you do that?
Start with the obvious. Before you can do any persuasion, you need to know who to persuade. These are the decision-makers, and there may be one, or there may be a committee of twelve. You need to know them. By name.
And you need to know what their domain is. What part of the decision-making process do they control. Are they finance guys with their checkbook ready? Are they geeks who want to know the gate-voltage capacity of your thyrister? Are they workers who want to know how it makes their job easier? You don’t want to be selling cost/benefit to the geek. He probably doesn’t care.
Sometimes, all of those domains are rolled up into one person and that makes your identification job easier. But more often than not, even if there is one decision-maker, there are a lot of decision-influencers, and you need to know them and their domains as well. The CEO who makes the final decision might have come up through the finance path, and someone will be telling him if your thyrister meets their specs or not.
This is why you need to assess the level of influence of each of the domain masters. If you’re selling a commodity and everybody uses pretty much the same thyrister, then the geek’s input will not be as important as the finance guy who wants the best price or the user who want the best interface.
The final question you need to ask yourself and answer accurately and honestly is, “how well have I done my job at this point?” Does the geek believe that yours is technically the best? Does the finance guy believe yours has the best cost/benefit ratio and will provide a strong ROI? Does the user think it fits well in his hand?
All of these, like everything else in the sales cycle, will change as you do your job, and as the competition does theirs. Nothing is static in sales. During your Prove phase, you need to focus on these things and do what works to constantly reach the point where you have identified and convinced all of the various actors in this opportunity.
Next installment we’ll look at the third and final phase of action – Closing.
This post is part of the Getting Sales Done series. Here are the other articles in this series:
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