When to apply a strategic selling process
Not all opportunities require a strategic planning process.
Too much process is like cutting butter with a chainsaw.
But, if you are cutting down an oak, you don’t want to use a butter knife.
Three Battle Fronts
Major opportunities are fought on three fronts:
- Technology – WHAT do we need?
- Financial – HOW MUCH financial return vs. competing projects?
- Political – WHO do we trust?
What makes a complex deal complex?
Multiple Decision Makers
Selling to groups of people with conflicting goals requires planning and thought prior to action.
Navigating the political layer becomes more important.
For example, do we start with senior people in the group or those at lower levels on the organization chart?
Most salespeople start low, only to become trapped below the level of decision-making authority by turf-conscious fact finders who claim to have more power than they do.
If your competition gets to the senior people, you will lose.
Large investments are subject to rigorous financial analysis. Projects with the most credibly quantified financial returns win the competition for finite capital.
Senior Level Approval
Large investments require executive approval.
Multiple Players on Your Cross-Functional Selling Team
Many salespeople, who excelled as individual contributors, need to learn how to lead a collaborative team selling effort.
Formal Buying Process
Customers use a formal buying process for large projects.
Longer Sales Cycle
Like mammals, the bigger they are, the longer the gestation period. Controlling the long sales cycle requires structure and documentation.
Buyers strive to create an artificially competitive environment with multiple bidders.
Large Investment in Resources
Both the buyer and the seller can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the evaluation process.
Increased Sales Pressure
The pursuit of a major opportunity often creates a large binary on the salesperson’s forecast.
If you win, you are a hero.
If you lose, it is an epic fail that impacts the entire year and the entire sales team.
How a Strategic Sales Process Helps in this Environment
A strategic sales process provides an effective and repeatable process for:
- Assessing the opportunity and making good bid/no bid decisions
- Establishing purpose prior to acting
- Gaining executive access and influence
- Influencing selection criteria
- Understanding the political layer and how to sell to committees
- Building the financial case
- Mobilizing your cross-function sales team to execute, by enabling them with information and direction
Tools for strategic selling in the Coach’s Toolbox include:
- The Opportunity X-Ray
- The Mutual Action Plan Template
- Major Opportunity Pursuit Plan
- Sales Strategy Selector
- Cross-functional Team Action Plan