When sales teams are asked how they would like to improve performance, we often hear: “How can I exert more control into the process?”
In 1284 the town of Hamelin, Germany had a rat infestation problem. The mayor was desperate for a solution. A piper wearing bright red clothing approached the mayor and offered to solve the problem for a fee of 1,000 gilders. They struck a deal and the Pied Piper used his pipe to lure all but one of the rats into the Weser river where they drowned.
The mayor then refused to pay. The Pied Piper angrily left and vowed to return to get his revenge. During church services one Sunday, the Pied Piper returned and began playing his pipe luring 130 of the town’s children to follow him out of town. They were never seen again.
This is not about anything as dark as revenge, drownings or kidnapping but, like the Pied Piper, an effective sales professional can lead a buying organization to closure. In fact, the sales professional should lead the buying organization through the process. The decision-makers within most organizations are not tasked with making complex buying decisions every day. Sales professionals are tasked with managing complex sales to closure every day.
Consider what problem can you solve, or goal can you deliver for the buying organization. Use questions to locate the Buyers who own the problems you solve or want the Desired Business Outcome(s) you can deliver. Get them involved in the decision process. Enthusiastic Buyers can become Guides who will help you win. These are your internal Pied Pipers.
Put Guides to work. They see a win for themselves in your proposed solution. If you win, they win. They should be willing to work to help themselves (and you) succeed. Get Guides to: provide information, set up introductions and share what is being said by other Buyers involved in the decision. Get them to help recruit more of their colleagues to your way of thinking.
Before sharing the price, quantify the economic value your proposed solution will deliver to the buying organization. If your proposed solution costs $150,000 and you are able to show a $1,200,000 annual return, then it should be possible to recruit someone from the Finance department to get excited and involved. After all, $1.2 Million per year equates to a $100k monthly opportunity. This means the buying organization will miss out on $100k every month it operates without the proposed solution. When economics are compelling and Finance is involved, the selling cycle length will collapse. It’s a time value of money play.
In fact, the sales professional should lead the buying organization through the process.
At some point, the proposed solution’s capabilities to deliver Desired Business Outcomes and the economic value of doing so will be presented to the buying organization. Properly delivered, it should generate enthusiasm among the Buyers. Sales professionals assume the Buyers will be enthused. A Closing Plan should be use to leverage that excitement in the moment.
A Closing Plan lists tasks to be completed by both the buying and selling organizations before implementation or a roll-out can begin. It identifies: tasks, people and dates. List the tasks to be completed and assign them to the buying or selling organization. Identify the people responsible for completing those tasks. Finally, mutually commit these tasks to calendar dates for the responsible parties on both sides. This is a collaborative effort. Have the buying organization identify the steps they must complete before contract signing.
Note: You may want to describe this listing as a Path to Implementation document if Closing Plan sounds too assumptive to the Buyers.
Buyers who see wins in your solution should want to achieve those wins sooner than later. Begin your Pied Piper strategy by recruiting and employing Guides. The sooner the economic value is quantified, the sooner Finance can be recruited to promote your cause. Use a Close Plan to describe events required to achieve the benefits of the proposed solution. Is there a board meeting that has to take place? When does the contract come back from legal, etc.? Seek inputs from the buying organization to make the Close Plan a collaborative roadmap.
This Buyer-centric strategy begins by finding Buyers to whom your solution will deliver wins. If the value of the proposed solution exceeds the price, then the buying organization should be willing to work as hard as you are to complete the sale. Show them how to get to their Desired Business Outcomes as soon as possible.