Managing Your Major Sales - 7 Steps That Could Change The Way You Pursue Business
Ever lost a sale you thought was in the bag? Not an unfamiliar feeling for many businesses large and small. No matter how good you think your product or service is, everything finally boils down to your ability to convince others that it is good for them. It is all about getting the decision makers who matter to say "Yes".
In major sales the whole approach is fundamentally different to small scale selling and requires a very different set of skills and techniques. Being competent in the small, simple sale is no guarantee of success in larger scale selling. The traditional techniques and "tricks of the trade" such as closing don't seem to work in quite the same way in the more complex large scale sale. They are replaced by precise planning, information gathering and behavioural skills that build trust in the minds of the decision makers. Fundamental to this is the development of a detailed understanding of how decisions are made in your target customer and who the key players are.
So what constitutes a major sale? For most businesses they have a number of characteristics:
1. A lengthy sales cycle. This can vary from a few days to a few months or more depending on the industry.
2. Multiple decision makers. Any decision becomes complex as soon as more than one person is involved in making it. Understanding who these people are and their role in the process is vital if you are to improve your chances of success.
3. High potential value/importance. This varies from business to business. If your turnover is Ł250k an opportunity worth Ł10k might be considered very important. If your turnover is Ł50m it might not.
4. Time consuming and costly to pursue. If the business is worth winning it is worth investing the time, money and effort that is required. However, because major sales can be time consuming and costly it is vital to identify those opportunities that are worth pursuing i.e. those that you have a chance of winning. If you adopt the lottery ticket approach and pursue every opportunity you will simply dilute your resources to the extent that you don't have enough left to win the business you really want.
5. Competition. The sale immediately becomes more complicated when the buying organisation has a number of options. For example, in a bid/proposal scenario you could be up against a number of competitors. How you go about managing the sale can have a huge effect on the potential outcome. Additionally, never forget the hidden competitor - the "do nothing" option for the customer/client.
It is clear that in major sales there is a need for a simple , structured approach that maximises your chances of success. By their very nature major sales are too important to be left to chance. Despite this very few businesses seem to have a robust approach in place and every new opportunity is greeted either with unfounded optimism or utter panic.
So what is required?
Step 1: Before you even begin it is important that you decide whether the opportunity is worth pursuing or not. If you haven't already got selection criteria in place to help you to decide don't delay any further. Get your key colleagues together and agree what the selection criteria should be. If you want a generic "Go/No Go" checklist visit our website at www.fieldofdreams.uk.com where you can download one for free. You should then tailor this so that it reflects your business and its' unique requirements.
Step 2: Identify the people in your target customer who are going to influence/make the decision and ensure you have the right people (skills and personalities) to deal with them. It would be helpful at this stage to have unlimited talent available but I accept that this is most unlikely! However, you should ask yourself "Do I have the team in place that can realistically be expected to win this piece of business?" If the answer is "No" you should revue your decision to pursue the opportunity.
Step 3: The Customer Contact Meetings. There are three activities that are encompassed within the Customer Contact Meetings:
i. Covering the Bases - this is all about ensuring you have identified all the people at your target customer who are going to have an input into the decision and then ensuring they are contacted by an appropriate member of your team
ii. Understanding customer needs - ok, I know this is obvious and no-one would seriously try to sell anything without understanding their customer's needs would they? At this stage it is vital to recognise that there are two groups of needs that should be understood and addressed:
a) The corporate need. This is the detailed understanding of the business needs that require addressing and how they can be best approached.
b) Personal needs. "Businesses don't make decisions - people do". What are the personal needs of the individuals that make up the decision-making team? Understanding and addressing these can be crucial in coming up with a winning proposal.
iii. Testing out potential solutions/propositions. Assuming the process includes a formal proposal document and/or a presentation, there is a temptation to store up your solutions/propositions in order to deliver an exciting proposal. This is the "rabbit out of the hat" approach. It is based on the assumption that the decision making team will be somehow impressed by all of this and that it will provide you with some sort of advantage over the competition. All too often it has precisely the opposite effect, with solutions presented that are simply unacceptable, or that have already been looked at and ruled out.
Given that this is likely to be the case, it is increasingly important that we constantly consider and discuss potential solutions with the customer/client. In this way we will be able to develop and hone our overall proposition to address the real needs, rather than those we have assumed exist. Additionally, it allows us to demonstrate our competence on an on-going basis.
Step 4: Your Proposal. You've done your Customer Contact Meetings. Now make sure that your proposal reflects the needs that your client expressed during those meetings and the solutions you have tested with them. Don't let it read like a solution you just picked off the shelf. The proposal should clearly demonstrate that:
a. you have understood the key issues that the business faces
b. you have clear solutions as to how those issues can be addressed
c. you can demonstrate the benefits the target will enjoy as a result of your solutions
d. you can demonstrate your competence in these areas
e. Be concise. If you're in a competitive situation and you turn in a short proposal, that's the one that's likely to be read first, which means that all others will be judged against it.
Step 5: The Presentation. Some major sales culminate with a proposal and/or a presentation. Whilst this article is not about presentations per se, you will not need reminding that some people would rather die than give a presentation. These are not the best people to choose to present your proposal. I take the view that in many situations the decision as to who is getting the business has often been made by the time the presentation arises. Under these circumstances the presentation becomes not the opportunity to win the business but the opportunity to lose it. The three key rules for effective presentations are - rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. If you are not comfortable presenting you may need help - go and get some! You cannot afford to fail at this late stage.
Step 6: The Follow Up: Once you have presented your proposal document and/or your presentation the question is "What next?"
You could sit back, congratulate yourself on a job well done and hope for the best. A more proactive approach is usually the best. Someone should contact the customer and make sure they have everything they need in order to be able to make an informed decision.
Step 7: Process Review: Win or lose, it is important that lessons are learned from the experience. The whole team should get together for a de-brief as well as an appointment being made with the target customer to understand how well/badly you performed in key areas. Why did you win/lose the business? What were the key issues? What did our competitors do that we didn't? What could we do better next time?
Ideally, put together a question checklist of the things it would be helpful for you to know and develop this list over time. Success is a continuous process of learning - this is a good opportunity.
Winning new business is the lifeblood of any B2B organisation and yet many simply do not give this absolutely fundamental area of their business sufficient thought and consideration. Business winning skill is critical to a company's on-going success. If the skills and processes are not in place in your business you could pay the ultimate price.
Mike Wilkinson is a director of Simatt Associates a UK based consultancy specialising in helping businesses target, win and manage more of the business they want to win. We work with clients evaluating current practices, helping them to develop robust approaches to their business development activities. You can contact Mike through the sales link at fieldofdreams.uk.com">http://fieldofdreams.uk.com
Humanitarian chief and special envoy warn of potential for another humanitarian catastrophe
The UNâs two most senior Syria experts have warned of an Aleppo-style humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib as an EU donor conference aimed to raise up to $6bn (ÂŁ4bn)to help Syrians displaced both inside and outside the country.
Idlib is the last major territory still in rebel hands. It is partly held by Hayâat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadi group that Russia and the Syrian government regard as a legitimate target in an area where civilians and fighters continue to pour in as part of evacuation deals in other parts of the country.
French presidentâs offer seems calculated to appease Donald Trumpâs discontent with the current âbad dealâ on Iranâs nuclear programme
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Guardian investigation reveals $64bn fund includes investments in companies involved in bribery and major environmental damage
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Established in 1948 by the UN general assembly, the fund provides retirement, death and disability benefits to employees. At present it has 203,050 beneficiaries and a market value of $64bn (ÂŁ45bn), of which nearly $1.5bn is invested in 24 publicly traded companies. Many of those companies have been or are being prosecuted for corrupt practices, implicated in human rights abuses or in environmental catastrophes.
Kenyaâs ban comes with the worldâs stiffest fines and some businesses are struggling to find affordable alternatives, but in Nairobiâs shanty towns the clean-up is changing lives
Waterways are clearer, the food chain is less contaminated with plastic â and there are fewer âflying toiletsâ.
A year after Kenya announced the worldâs toughest ban on plastic bags, and eight months after it was introduced, the authorities are claiming victory â so much so that other east African nations Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan are considering following suit.
Photographs from Sihanouk in the countryâs south west reveal locals living amid a staggering tide of plastic pollution
Looking down into the water that lies beneath the ramshackle houses of Sihanouk, Cambodia, it is hard to imagine that the sea is there at all. Instead, there is dense layer upon layer of plastic waste clogging the water, piling up around poles that support the wooden homes, carpeting the beach.
Remains found near mausoleum destroyed after 1979 revolution, which deposed Pahlavi dynasty
A mummified body found near a shrine in Tehran could be of the early 20th-century Iranian monarch Reza Shah, a polarising figure whose reappearance would be problematic for the countryâs present Islamic leaders.
Local media have published conflicting reports about this weekâs discovery at Shah Abdol-Azim shrine, close to a former royal mausoleum south of the capital where the shah had been buried.
Prime minister reportedly discussed the plight of Raif Badawi, Saudi sentenced to 1,000 lashes, whose wife has asylum in Canada
Canadaâs prime minister, Justin Trudeau, expressed his âserious concernâ over the continued imprisonment of the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to the kingdomâs King Salman bin Abdulaziz, his office said on Tuesday.
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When a Mexican presidential candidate proposed in a televised debate that public servants who steal should have their hands cut off, his comments were initially greeted with disbelief, and then mockery.
Hours later, however, there was a much grimmer reaction: drug cartel members dumped a dismembered corpse in the Pacific city of Acapulco with a sign saying that they were already enforcing the punishment.
Inadequate support for Hong Kongâs ageing population means for some older citizens, scavenging and selling boxes and scrap is the only way to scrape by
Miss Wong, 65, scavenges the streets of Hong Kongâs Sheung Shui area in search of disused cardboard to sell to local recycling plants. She starts her day at 7am and often works until 9pm, seven days a week. For her efforts, she receives about HK$41 (ÂŁ3.60) per day.
Wong is one of an estimated thousand senior citizens nicknamed âcardboard granniesâ who collect and sell waste boxes and other scrap across nine of the poorest districts in the city.
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Three days later, on 19 April, he returned to the lab and swallowed a tiny amount just to see what would happen: âAs it later turned out, it was five times too much and gave me a horror trip.â He asked an assistant to take him home by bicycle, and Basel transformed into a panorama of hellish and heavenly visions. The bike seemed to freeze to the spot; a friendly neighbour turned into an evil witch. Hours later, Hofmann felt wonderful. âLSD called me, I didnât seek it out,â he recalled. âIt came to me.â
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Fashionable eateries like Fattoush are one reason why Israelâs third largest city and its biggest âmixedâ one, as officially classified, is held up as a model of Jewish-Arab coexistence. Not everyone agrees with the concept, of course, and the âcâ word is often qualified, placed in inverted commas, or simply dismissed as propaganda. Official figures say Arabs make up 14% of Haifaâs 280,000-strong population; unofficial estimates are closer to 18%, swelled by students and commuters from nearby Galilee. Public spaces, at least, are open to all. And the ever-present Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, usually, softer-edged than elsewhere in the country.
Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with a full 40% of its population living in either Melbourne or Sydney: large, sprawling, coastal cities with very different personalities. Factoring in the other state, territory and national capitals â Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Perth and Darwin â takes that share to two-thirds of the total population of nearly 25 million.
Each of these cities has its own character, typically a result of its geography or weather. Thereâs Perth, the westernmost city, closer to Bali than the east coast. Canberra, the flat, planned federal capital of fake lakes and roundabouts. Melbourne, with its changeable weather. Harbour-centric Sydney. Hobart, Australiaâs second-oldest city. Brisbane, split by the river. Darwin, the largest city of the Northern Territory, changing character from wet season to dry. Post-industrial Adelaide.
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Universal basic income (UBI) in its purest form is a payment that every citizen receives on a regular basis, without condition and as of right, in and out of work. Universal credit is paid on a household basis, is means tested and conditional, for example on recipients proving that they are actively searching for and accepting offers of work. The Finnish trial is not universal, as only 2,000 unemployed people were selected for it, but it is a basic income.
Father-of-three from Ireland is fighting for his life after allegedly being attacked by Roma fans before Champions League game
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Cox, a businessman from Dunboyne in County Meath, Ireland, suffered serious head injuries after being assaulted outside the Albert pub, next to the Kop end of Liverpoolâs Anfield stadium, on Tuesday evening.
Rolling coverage of the dayâs political developments as they happen, including Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs, Amber Rudd giving evidence to MPs on Windrush and David Davis giving evidence to MPs on Brexit
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There are moments of great tension in this film about the work of an extraordinarily brave mine-disposal expert, or âdeminerâ, in Iraq. It is of real value in the raw archive material it presents, though often frustrating in that its footage is mostly presented without editorial perspective, almost like a rough assemblage of videotape.
Col Fakhir Berwari was a Kurdish army officer who was a US military liaison officer in Iraq between 2003 and 2008, disarming booby-trap devices set by jihadi insurgents using little more than a pair of pliers to snip the wires.With no small sense of his own heroism, Fakhir got a subordinate to film him with a videocamera (though this documentary never comments on the secondary heroism of this camera operator) and it gives us some hair-raising moments from this video cache that his son Abdulla later discovered.
During the course of her travels, my mother, Margaret Knox, who has died aged 93, immersed herself in the culture of the countries she and her husband, Andrew, lived in.
In Nigeria she set up one of the first primary schools in her area and went on to carry out humanitarian work during the Biafran conflict. Later, in Fiji, she produced English-language textbooks aimed at an island audience. In retirement she wrote a guide to Norfolk and a book on Suffolk cheeses.
The centennial flame is a popular attraction in Ottawa, but it could be replaced with an âalternative sustainable approachâ
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Scott Morrison will use a speech to business economists on Thursday to confirm the about face on a measure the government outlined in the 2017 budget.
Shocked by the humanitarian crisis she saw unfolding in Greece, Ayesha Keller got on a plane to see if she could help save lives
Ayesha Keller was horrified by the treatment of refugees in Europe and wanted to try to make a difference. She left her job and headed for the Greek island of Lesbos, where she found the beaches strewn with discarded lifejackets, and the formal refugee settlement overflowing. Thousands of people unable to get into the camp were huddled in freezing fields, with no facilities, food or shelter. Keller banded together with other volunteers who had gone to Greece in response to the tragedy. During her year-long stay, she helped crowdfund, establish and run a transit camp in a local farmerâs olive groves
Sounds from Lesbos were recorded by Cambria Bailey-Jones
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When Amjed Farid was transferred to a small cell in Kober prison on 5 April, he had a sense of deja vu. âI suddenly realised it was the same one Iâd been in five years before,â he says. âIt brought back some unpleasant memories. I spent a month in solitary, and had hoped Iâd never have to see the place again.â
Farid was one of hundreds imprisoned in Sudan in January following peaceful protests against government austerity measures. While some were released after a few weeks, dozens were detained for nearly three months without charge, including British citizen Sidqi Kaballo. Many were kept in a bitterly cold security centre in Khartoum notorious for interrogations and torture, dubbed âthe Hotelâ by officials.
The shocking case involved a girl from the Bakarwal nomadic tribe, who was out grazing her horses when she was abducted, drugged and murdered after a week of torture and repeated rape. It led to a nationwide outcry for swifter justice.
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North Korean leaderâs surprise freeze should be seen more as diplomatic manoeuvre than step towards giving up warheads
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These celebrations of the countryâs weapons programme serve as a constant reminder to residents and visitors of how critical North Koreaâs nuclear project has been to its national identity and security.
A win for security, but real acid test of Pyongyangâs intentions is whether it will give up the weapons it has already built
North Korea has announced it will cease testing nuclear devices and missiles, and promised to shut down its primary nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. If this is genuine, it is a serious step forward, but we should greet it with cautious optimism.
We have been on the cusp of a breakthrough with North Korea before, only to be disappointed. There will be a lot of questions. But there is no need to be recalcitrantly hawkish about this. Within the limits of North Koreaâs strained credibility, this is a win for allied security.
A Korean âreinterpretationâ of the Swiss fried potato dish rĂśsti is one highlight of the banquet planned for after Fridayâs summit between the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Koreaâs president, Moon Jae-in
The French president is on the first state visit to the US under Trump's presidency. During the three-day trip, the two heads of state have shared some touching moments â including Trump brushing dandruff from Macron's suit â in between discussions on global affairs
The US president, Donald Trump, and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, exchange a vigorous handshake at the White House. Macron is the first leader to be accorded a state visit since Trump came to power in January 2017
The US president has treated his French counterpart to a colourful welcome at the White House. As the two leaders stood for a photo-op, Donald Trump said he and Emmanuel Macron had 'a very special relationship' before brushing away what he said was a 'little piece' of dandruff from Macron's jacket to 'make him perfect'. While the French president has tried to develop a close relationship with Trump since taking office last May, he has so far seen few tangible results on issues from Iran to climate politics.
Political dramas Homeland and Designated Survivor have recently explored how a president could be removed from office using the 25th amendment to the US constitution. It can only be triggered if the president is deemed 'unfit for office'. But how would it work in reality? Who would be needed to trigger it? And why has it never been used before? The Guardian's US political reporter Sabrina Siddiqui explains
Kim Jong-un visited survivors after dozens of Chinese tourists were killed when their bus plunged off a bridge in North Korea. The state-run KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday that the North Korean leader had visited two survivors of the crash on Sunday in which 32 Chinese and four North Koreans died
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