This guest article is written by Steve Goodman. Steve has been in sales for over forty years, and has had the fortunate experience to lead sales teams and divisional organizations in the laboratory supply industry for most of that time. Customer interactions are a critical part of his duties all the time.
I love this time of year in the business sense. A good year can become great and a close-to-target year can make it over that line with some hard work. No matter what kind of a year you’ve had, improvements are possible and goals are achievable with a strong finish.
While your team is executing the year-end strategy, leadership is working hard to have executable plans ready to go on January 1. A new year and a new start; all the promise for the best year ever! Part of those plans should include an evaluation of your intellectual honesty— an honest reflection of your business. Am I and this organization being truthful as to why we win and lose in the marketplace? Are our investments driving results?
Pick up any of your sales reports and there is likely to be some reference to loss on price or loss on an RFP. Look too at the wins. You should find mention of what was done right! Analyzing both situations is key to understanding market competitiveness and how to apply resources so you improve the odds of winning in the future. How many reports referenced being outsold, late to the opportunity or completely unaware of the actual decision maker? Hopefully not many but delineating reasons for the loss will turn the defeat into something you can use. On the flip side, with your successes, what’s getting you the sale? Do you see the same individuals demonstrating their skill time after time and wish the whole team would too? Without open reflection, the status quo will remain.
Being intellectually honest about the true nature of wins and losses is not always the most comfortable conversation to have with your team or with yourself. But it’s the only way to accurately chart a new course of action or refine your current path. Consider the following questions and how providing an accurate analysis of your sales process might benefit your team:
- Do you know the customer’s buying process?
- Who is(are) the decision maker(s)?
- How will pricing be competitively tested and how are the specifications being formulated?
- What part do you play in helping a customer formulate a solution to a problem?
- Are you engaging at the beginning of the customer’s buying process, the middle or one out of three quotes?
- Are you bringing value to the customer or just looking to perform a transaction?
How and when you engage customers affects the answers to all of these questions. Investing in your people by offering a proven sales process and the right tools will answer the how and when. A process is essential for building forecastable and repeatable results. It formalizes how you deliver value to the customer and establishes an ongoing relationship. It all starts with intellectual honesty around the current state of business affairs.
Here’s to an outstanding 2024.