For many, fourth quarter can be a time to reflect on decisions made over the last year. What worked, what didn’t? What to continue doing to meet your goals and what to stop doing?
As you may be embarking on this kind of reflection as well, I thought it would be helpful to lend a piece of advice that has kept many on the right track.
Fix the Right Sales Problem
Sound obvious? Maybe it is, yet too often busy executives do not have (or make) the necessary time to diagnose and pinpoint the exact problem they’re facing. Not knowing the exact problem, or worse, not knowing that you don’t know the exact problem can lead to incorrect conclusions. Fixing the wrong problem is time consuming, expensive and can be the direct cause of many missed opportunities.
One business owner recently told me he planned to fire the salesperson who had been working at his company for 2 years. The reason? Not enough closed deals. When I asked why more deals weren’t closing he said he didn’t know. Rather than watching him face the negative financial impact of potentially solving the wrong problem, I showed him the diagnostic process we use with our clients to pinpoint the exact sales problem causing an undesirable outcome.
What we uncovered were two areas in his sales process that were causing deals to stall.
- The first was a key objection received during the initial prospect meeting for which his seller did not have a strong enough response.
- The second was their proposal was so long and difficult to understand that prospects tended to set it aside to review “later,” yet later didn’t come often enough.
The first issue stopped the sales process and the second issue unnecessarily elongated the sales process. While both led to a lower than desired close ratio, changing the salesperson wasn’t necessarily going to fix the problem. The business owner followed our recommendation to work with his seller to craft an objection answer that worked as well as revise the structure (and delivery) of the proposal so prospects could more easily say “yes.” The result was a dramatic increase in their close ratio as well a dramatic decrease in the time it took to close sales. In addition, the business owner avoided the time, expense and risk associated with hiring a new salesperson and possibly STILL facing the same problems.
As business owners we are all moving so fast and have so much on our plates. We need to make decisions so we can conquer the next challenge. While it may take a little longer to do this diagnosis, or it may cost a little more if you hire an outside consultant to help you do it, you will never be sorry.