I was once part of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) team conducting due diligence on a company and we were uncovering anomalies in their data. The owner who was seeking to sell his company jumped on the front foot: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you and if we can't progress quickly we'll start negotiating with the other party." Our CEO just look at him calmly and said: "Opportunities are like trains... there will always be another one along shortly."
I learned a valuable lesson... never be desperate and whether you are a buyer or seller, always test the other side. It should always be done with intelligence and good manners. There is no shortage of opportunities, just limited hours in the day for us to invest our time wisely in preparing for success, building relationships and executing the right activities masterfully.
Sales managers need to encourage their sales people to make tough decisions in being productive. Qualifying out of a deal should be a smart decision, not the result of laziness. The decision will depend on the situation but the art of sales management is to stay positive in the way we lead and to instill the principles of 'non hunger' and ‘less is more’. Volume kills quality and it’s easy to be ‘the busy fool.’ The best way to create success is through careful targeting, senior engagement, strong qualification, and then out-investing the competition in deal pursuit. Make sure you know what a well qualified prospect looks like by profiling your very best customers.
"If you are going to lose, do it quickly and graciously. Don't allow a lost cause to drain your time, energy and resources"
The opportunity cost in failing to pursue winnable business is real because while you are being consumed by a distraction you are not investing where you should. It is therefore important to withdraw from a losing situation as early as possible because investing right up until the buyer's final shortlist and then coming second means you were the loser who incurred to most wasted investment of time and resources.
But how do you know if you cannot win a deal? Here is list of tell-tail signs:
- You were invited into the process late and they just want your price
- You are denied access to the decision-making power-base of people
- You are asked questions that highlight your comparative weaknesses
- You are not given adequate time to prepare a bid response or demo
- They won't share their business drivers or business case
Equip your sales people to engage in intelligent conversations at senior levels and then establish value and differentiation; or qualify out. As a sales manager; be an encourager, coach and strategist… get out of weeds of spreadsheets and CRM reporting. Instead challenge your sales people to be their very best and challenge your boss to let you invest more time in the field to mentor and coach in driving excellence in execution.
"If you know you can win, take your time to do proper research, planning and resource management. Invest more than any other competitor to differentiate yourself in how you understand the customer and sell"
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by: Flickr: Tim Norris ...and in last place