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
Right to life is likely to be undermined alongside the rule of law, special rapporteur says
The world is increasingly at risk of âclimate apartheidâ, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said.
Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law.
Minister says Islam forbids such a move as country prepares to breach nuclear deal
Iran will never pursue a nuclear weapon, its foreign minister has claimed, saying Islam prevented the country from doing so.
In July 2015, Iran and a six-nation negotiating group reached a landmark agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that ended a 12-year deadlock over Tehranâs nuclear programme. The deal, struck in Vienna after nearly two years of intensive talks, limited the Iranian programme, to reassure the rest of the world that it cannot develop nuclear weapons, in return for sanctions relief.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to say whether his campaign team passed a photograph of him and his partner to newspapers as a PR strategy during a radio interview which saw the Tory leadership frontrunner quizzed again about his personal life.
Speaking to LBC, Johnson refused at least half a dozen times to comment on the photo of himself and Carrie Symonds seemingly sitting in the garden of a pub. He would not answer when the host, Nick Ferrari, pressed: âThis is quite an old picture isnât it?â
Former ambassadors say far-right leader has cuddled up to rightwing nationalists, irked China, infuriated Middle Eastern partners, and jettisoned its position as climate crisis leader
It has long been considered one of the jewels of Latin American statecraft; a shrewd, dependable and highly trained foreign service that helped make Brazil a global climate leader and soft power heavyweight.
But six months into the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, even veteran diplomats struggle to mask their horror at the wrecking ball being taken to the countryâs nearly two century-old foreign office, known as Itamaraty after the Rio palace where it was once housed.
Foreign minister says there are âindividual incidentsâ that can be compared to UK knife crime
Pakistanâs foreign minister has sought to dismiss accusations of Christian persecution, claiming there were âindividual incidentsâ comparable to knife crime in the UK.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, speaking during a visit to Brussels, said reports of religious minorities being targeted in Pakistan did not constitute a trend and the recent claims of Christian persecution were an example of âwestern interestsâ that âwant to paint Pakistan in a particular wayâ.
New âinfluence operationsâ will openly advertise participation in debate instead of hiding it
The next wave of âinfluence operationsâ like those that Russia used to target the 2016 US election will aim to destabilise debate by making voters think bots are everywhere, Facebookâs head of cybersecurity policy has said.
Nathaniel Gleicher, who runs the companyâs response to politically motivated malfeasance on its platform, said groups such as Russiaâs Internet Research Agency (IRA) were increasingly trying to manipulate public perception of themselves. âNot running a large network of fake accounts but just playing on the fact that everyone thinks there are large networks of fake accounts out there,â he said.
Delegation leaves Council of Europe assembly in protest at readmission of Russian MPs
The Ukrainian delegation at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has walked out in protest after Russian MPs were allowed to return to the human rights body five years after the annexation of Crimea.
The assembly backed Russiaâs return by 118 votes to 62, in one of the first reversals of the penalties imposed on Moscow after its military entered Ukraine in 2014.
UK ambassador says Berlin is willing to hear fresh ideas for Irish border problem
Germany will fight to the last hour to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal and is willing to hear any fresh ideas for the Irish border backstop, the countryâs ambassador to the UK has said.
Speaking at a car manufacturersâ summit in London, Peter Wittig said Germany cherished its relationship with the UK and was ready to talk about solutions the new prime minister might have for the Irish border problem.
Supreme court clears way for Dmytro Firtash to face trial on bribery charges
Austriaâs supreme court has upheld a decision granting a US request to extradite the Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash, paving the way for him to face trial in the United States over bribery allegations.
Firtash, who denies any wrongdoing, is a former business partner of Donald Trumpâs ex-campaign chairman and convicted felon Paul Manafort. He is also a former supporter of Ukraineâs ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich. Firtash made a fortune selling Russian gas to the Kyiv government.
Donald Trump responds to E. Jean Carroll's assault revelation with: She's "not my type". Outrageous, but sadly not surprising. 1/2
Fox's newscasts and talk shows have barely mentioned E. Jean Carroll's newly published allegation that Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. https://t.co/B2r89uqbHa
Hereâs some more of E Jean Carrollâs comments on CNN last night. The advice columnist was appearing on Anderson Cooperâs show after Trump doubled down on his denial of her allegations earlier in the day.
In an interview with The Hill, Trump said: âIâll say it with great respect: Number one, sheâs not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?â
In 2013 the Irish capital was ranked among the worldâs top 20 bike-friendly cities, but only a small part of the promised cycle network was ever built
One sunny May afternoon in Dublin, as the Spice Girls prepared to kick off their Spice World 2019 tour at Croke Park stadium, the coaches bringing their fans unwittingly sparked another reunion â the cityâs cycle activists.
It had been two years since the direct action group I Bike Dublin had mobilised to protect cycle tracks from car parking â uniting around twice a week under the hashtag #freethecyclelanes â but as police officers directed coach drivers to park in the bike lane by Dublin Bay, blocking the track, the protesters were back.
Chongqingâs population is estimated at just below 10 million but that rises to more than 31 million if the built-up surroundings are included. Belgian photographer Kris Provoost finds that in a city so large, individuals can get lost
High unemployment and living costs are driving people from the metropolis â but some rural residents arenât happy about the new arrivals
Su Ava has been up since 5am. There have been new lambs to check on, goats, cats and dogs to feed, beehives to inspect, orders to fill, and she has also made a visit to her under-construction workshop.
Her current life making and selling cheese, honey and tahini in Turkeyâs beautiful Ăanakkale region could not be more different to her old one in Istanbul. The work can be exhausting but, Ava says, she would not give it up for anything.
Political, security and cultural complications â not least a refusal to believe that Ebola exists â have thwarted efforts to overcome DRCâs deadly outbreak
Moise Kitsakihu-Mbira has lost his brother, his grandson and 11 other family members to Ebola. When he himself fell sick he sought treatment in secret. His family donât believe the virus exists and think a man in their village poisoned them.
Refusal to believe in the existence of Ebola is one difficulty for doctors who say the current outbreak of the deadly virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the âmost complex public health emergency in historyâ and warn it could drag on for months.
NHS says outbreak of invasive group A streptococcus began in Braintree and has spread
Twelve people have died from a rare bacterial infection that has spread in Essex, the NHS has said.
There have been 32 reported cases of the disease, called invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS). The NHS Mid Essex clinical commissioning group said the outbreak started in Braintree and had spread to the Chelmsford and Maldon areas, but did not give a timeline for this. Public Health England said it was a âlocal incidentâ.
James Marape says foreign contractors should not be doing work that locals can do
Papua New Guineaâs newly appointed prime minister wants Australia to cancel its controversial contract with Paladin to deliver services on Manus Island.
James Marape, who became prime minister after the resignation of Peter OâNeill last month, told PNGâs parliament on Tuesday he would summon Australiaâs diplomatic head of mission âto provide an explanationâ.
State education minister James Merlino announces move aimed at reducing classroom distraction and cyberbullying
Students at Victorian public schools will be banned from using their phones from next year.
In an effort to reduce distractions and cyber bullying, and hopefully improve education outcomes, students will have to switch off their phones and store them in lockers during school hours until the final bell, Education Minister James Merlino has announced.
In the early hours of a Saturday morning in the city of Nadi, on the west coast of Fijiâs main island, Isaiah* is sitting in a Burger King drinking Fanta through a straw and explaining how he became a drug dealer.
He started five years ago, aged 13, selling cigarettes and marijuana. Now he sells cocaine and methamphetamines.
Visa decision overturned for British resident Nina Saleh, 48 hours after Guardian and others published her story
A woman who was refused a visa to return to London after travelling to Pakistan to adopt a baby has been told she can come home.
Nina Saleh has a Norwegian passport but full UK residency rights after living in London for 20 years. She was refused a visa to return home with baby Sofia three times, despite going through a stringent and lengthy adoption process in the UK with British authoritiesâ involvement.
From Colombia to Zimbabwe, members of a global network of rape survivors are demanding an end to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war
All photographs by Raegan Hodge of the Dr Denis Mukwege Foundation
Carmen was raped by armed guerrilla forces in Colombia. Ekhlas was kidnapped by Isis in Iraq and forced into sexual slavery. Grace was taken by rebels from her classroom in Uganda, âgivenâ to a soldier and impregnated twice before finally fleeing to safety.
Today, these women are all members of the Global Network of Victims and Survivors to End Wartime Rape, known as Sema, which translates to âspeak outâ in Swahili. The network represents roughly 2,000 rape survivors and 90 yearsâ worth of conflict across 21 countries in Africa, South America, the Middle East and Europe.
Plastics are among the most ubiquitous materials in our economy, our lives, and our environment. They are also among the most pervasive and persistent pollutants on Earth.
In recent years, stark images of beaches, waterways and wildlife filled with plastic have spurred demands for action to address plastic pollution. These calls are coupled with growing concern that plastic and its toxic additives pose serious risks to human health at every stage of the plastic lifecycle. Far less attention has been paid to the impacts of this same lifecycle on the Earthâs climate. This is a dangerous oversight.
Bernie Sanders has a radical plan to wipe out undergraduate and graduate debt for all Americans. Here is whatâs at stake
Going to university in the US is expensive â costing an average of over $34,000 a year in tuition and fees at private universities â which means for most Americans, the only way of viably pursuing higher education is to take out a student loan.
Did you ever decide to get off a jammed freeway and take the backroads even though deep down you knew that it wouldnât be any faster? Are you constantly switching to the faster lane on a busy freeway even though you notice that cars sticking to their lanes keep catching up with you?
Both are examples of action bias, the phenomenon in which people prefer doing something over doing nothing, even if the likely outcome of the action is worse than the outcome of inaction. Research has shown that actively managed portfolios tend to do worse than passive investments. And one study found that soccer goalkeepers prefer to jump left or right during a penalty-kick, even though the best thing would be to stay put in the middle.
The US president has signed an executive order placing âhard-hittingâ new sanctions on Tehran amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran. Trump said the measures were a âstrong and proportionate response to Iranâs increasingly provocative actionsâ after a US drone was shot down last week
The Stonewall rebellion in 1969 started a revolution in LGBT rights in the US. Ed Pilkington revisits the story 50 years on with those who were there. Plus: Lucy Siegle on the rise of fast fashion
On the evening of 27 June 1969, gay men and their trans and lesbian peers gathered as usual at a bar called the Stonewall Inn. What followed would change the course of LGBT rights in the US and the wider world. A police raid on the bar in the early hours of the following day descended into violence as supporters came out on to the streets and stayed there defiantly.
The Guardianâs Ed Pilkington has tracked down some of those who took part in the rebellion and joins Anushka Asthana to discuss what happened and the growing recognition of LGBT rights in the decades that followed.
Soap, toothbrushes and blankets are some of the items migrant children detained in the US do not need, a Trump administration official has claimed. Sarah Fabian, a lawyer for the US Department of Justice, argued at the US court of appeals for the ninth circuit that such children do not always require certain sanitary products
A bug-eyed, dreadlocked pooch called Scamp the Tramp took top honours on Friday at the 31st annual World's Ugliest Dog contest. Scamp beat 18 other contestants at the event, held in Northern California. Organisers say the contest is about bringing attention to the needs of rescue dogs.
Donald Trump has said the US air force was 'cocked and loaded' to attack three Iranian targets, but he withdrew the order with 10 minutes to spare after being told the airstrikes might kill as many as 150 people. The strikes were planned in retaliation for Iran shooting down an unmanned US surveillance drone
The European council president, Donald Tusk, and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, raised some laughs after the leaders of the member states failed to reach agreement on who should take the bloc's top jobs. 'I note with some pleasure that it is not easy to replace me,' Juncker told a press conference. He will step down as commission chief in October
RELATED ARTICLESThe 7 Keys to Business Success
Do you run a business that seems to run you? It does not have to be this way. There are 7 keys that can improve your business results and help you achieve success with much less stress.
Top Ten Things to Do to Make your Signature File Sell
Always include a powerful signature on every email you send out, even to friends. It's even more important when you send out articles to opt-in ezines (no spam) and top web sites in your field--more important than your article's message.
Ten Tips for Cross Cultural Communication
Here are some simple tips to help you improve your cross cultural communication skills:
Even when English is the common language in a cross cultural situation, this does not mean you should speak at normal speed. Slow down, speak clearly and ensure your pronunciation is intelligible.
Top Ten Tips for Online Publishing Success
Use the checklist below to make sure your article, tip, or book excerpt will get published and make you a household name on the Internet.
How To Make $20.00 For Every $1.00 Invested
It has been said you can lift the Rock of Gibraltar if you have a fulcrum point and long enough lever. When we refer to "financial leverage" we are talking about the same principle.
10 High-Impact Viral Marketing Strategies
Viral Marketing is allowing people to giveaway and
use your f.ree product or service in order to multiply
your marketing quickly over the internet.
The Ten Best Kept Secrets For Protecting Your Business Property Against Theft
1. Locks and Padlocks - Locks on all outside entrances and inside security doors should be double cylinder deadbolts with removable collars.
7 Tips To Increase The Success Of Your Online Business
1. Outsource what takes you too long to doWhen you don't have time to do something, you either don't do it, or do it faster and make mistakes.
Ten Tips on Delegating Work
One way to manage your time more effectively is to delegate work to others on your staff or to contract workers you hire for specific projects. How often I hear such comments as, "It takes too much time to delegate.
Ten Ways to Strengthen Your Reading Habit
Most people wish they read more. It is an activity that is both fun and enlightening.
The Top 10 Reasons Businesses Succeed
Only one of every 5 businesses makes it to its 5th year, and fewer still make it to 10 years. What do the successful businesses have in common?1.
7 Ways To Profit From Other Peoples Products
If you don't possess the time, money or inclination to create your own hot selling product there is plenty of scope for profit by using other people's.In this quick article I'll detail the best ways to take a third-party product and use it to fill your own bank account.
Ten Tips for Working at Home
1. Maintain regular working hours and stick to them.
I WANT IT NOW - 10 Tips for Freight & Drayage at Trade Shows
Gas prices continue to go through the roof and increased
transportation costs will increase trade show costs across
the board.Here are 10 Tips for saving time, money and your sanity.
Positioning Your Company for Debt Financing
Positioning Your Company for Debt Financing:There was a time in the old days when going to the bank was the only way to get outside capital for your business. These days with the explosion of raising equity investment, many of the guidelines for running a company have been revolutionized.
Seven Steps to Achieving Your Dream
"Vision is the spectacular that inspires us to carry out the mundane." -- Chris WidenerCan achievement be broken down into steps? Well, it isn't always that clean and easy, but I do know that those who achieve great things usually go through much of the same process, with many of the items listed below as part of that process.
Tips to Starting your Own Busniess
The 9-to-5 grind can make you feel like a just another cog in the corporate machine, constantly punching the clock for someone else's vision. One day, while dreaming of the world outside the cubicle, you have your big "Eureka!" moment-you've come across an idea so perfect that you need to start your own business around it.
Learn to Improve Sales - 10 Ways to Get More Business Starting Today
You need sales and you wanted them yesterday. Here are ten ideas to start those sales pouring in.
Reminders For Running A Better Business
The following tips are from an article we contributed to Compute magazine. These are ideas that we all should know, but many times forget.
7 Tips on How To Prepare for Business Events
Are you scratching your head after business events wondering
why you aren't finding prospects? Whether it's your first
or 100th event, here are some tips on how to prepare for
your next event that can make the difference between
scratching and smiling. These tips will help you save time,
money, create memorable impressions, and increase