Bend down before you get bent over.
The two most common forms of assessing sales performance are before and after the deal.
Before the deal, there are forecasting meetings, commit meetings and hasty appraisals of a deal’s winnability because every one is flat chat and a number needs to go in by midnight to keep someone happy somewhere in the world of sales operations.
After the deal, if it’s a win – great.
If it’s a loss there’s public lynching, more finger pointing than an AFL goal umpire, followed often by the same lame attempts at retrieval as those of a 3 legged cocker spaniel with a bent stick.
Confronting the effectiveness of the deal strategy is often not done well and pitch/presentations/client meetings go ahead with half baked and often untested value propositions.
It’s time to get comfortable with the rubber glove.
This month alone I’m conducting three major pitch colonoscopies for clients that want their deals probed, picked apart, differentiated and made compelling BEFORE they hit the client’s eyes and ears.
People still believe in hope, the tooth fairy and their existing so-called fabulous relationships to win.
Key questions that should be asked are:
‘Why should this client at this particular time see this as important?’
‘Why are you not just capable, but absolutely differentiated as best fit?’
‘What do your client’s most senior executives know or think about you?’
‘What are you presenting that is going to WOW them?’
‘What have you done to accommodate the egos, politics and personalities of each decision maker?’
There are at least twenty others that discover polyps, cysts and other brown sticky stuff that prevent pitches from telling a genuinely persuasive story.
One of the best organisations I’ve seen is a top tier professional services firm that spent 3 days including senior partner time at gazillions of dollars an hour testing a colleagues pitch.
The ramifications were significant in that 110 jobs were at risk if they didn’t hold that account.
During one of my sessions with them I asked the managing partner ‘ How did you develop such a professional, robust culture of critique, confrontation and analysis to win major accounts?’
He said ‘Do you know how much it costs to recruit and train 110 people – we’re not losing this on my watch’
In a time of political correctness (the definition of which is that it presupposes you can pick up a turd from the clean end), sensitivity and ego management, too many problems with deals are not picked up and confronted early enough.
Issues are glossed over or forgotten, not enough time is dedicated to strategy and too much undifferentiated drivel is pitched to clients affecting win rates.
It can be uncomfortable bending down and having your deal exposed.
It’s more devastating to waste months on a lost deal that could have been won.
Next time, get a team comprised of your CFO, CTO, Director or head of a different product division to listen to your deal, watch your pitch and pick it to pieces.
It may be the best use of internal resources you make all year.
Alternatively, call me. I have warm hands.
CEO of Salient Communication, Elliot is a sought after keynote speaker, pitch consultant and corporate trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.
He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children.