Your Sales Manager / Team have been forecasting certain prospects for months now, yet they cannot get them to move to the next step and make a decision. They believe they have qualified all their requirements, presented a customized proposal with good price points but the prospects still resist moving forward regardless of your Team’s dedicated follow-up, and perhaps even a price reduction to get these deals done.

What is happening here?

There are four main mistakes that can get a Sales Manager / Team into the position of losing to the Status Quo. And these mistakes happen early in the Sales Cycle. Specifically, they have most likely rushed through the Discoveries stage to get to the Proposal / Recommendation. They can’t go backwards at this point now, and actually need to stop and readdress the entire opportunity. Here are four key variables that your Sales Manager / Team most likely did not fully qualify:

  1. They have the wrong person– Right from the start as they did their pre-call research and / or qualified a lead they identified a contact that they suspected would be the Decision Maker for your particular product or service. However, they did not confirm if they were indeed the correct person, or if there were additional stakeholders.
  1. They have the wrong level of authority – In addition to this confirmation, does the identified Decision Maker also have the access to funds and contractual / transactional signing authority? Can they provide an overview of their organization’s Purchasing Process?

If these questions are not posed at the beginning of the Sales Cycle, the Manager will find themselves too far down the road with the wrong contact and risk not knowing how to reach around them or worse, above them. They will have effectively become ‘stuck’.

  1. They have the wrong ‘problem’– In their initial excitement of identifying where a prospect’s ‘pain’ is being experienced they failed to flesh-out any related challenges. Think of that iceberg slide everyone has seen – initial potential problems are fairly easy to spot, but it’s what lies beneath the surface where potentially large corresponding and related areas of opportunities are.

Rushing through Discoveries is a fatal mistake as the chance to fully understand related business challenges is not being optimized. For example, poor fleet management of office equipment affects not only the end users, but Finance, IT and Operations as well. Were all the potential stakeholders spoken with?

  1. They have the wrong timing– Has your Team fully thought through the timing of their Sales Cycle / Proposal? Are they making a recommendation that does not take into account what may be happening at the prospect’s company? For example, what are their prospect’s priorities right now? Are they undergoing an expansion, or closing locations? Are they anticipating new Leadership to be on board shortly? Is the proposal helpful to them, or just another item to be dealt with? Understanding your prospect’s internal pressures and priorities is critical to ensuring your Team is presenting the right proposal, at the right time.

Discoveries is an absolutely critical stage of the Consultative Sales Process and should never be rushed through. This is where you will identify all their areas of ‘pain’ and seek to understand how different departments or areas of their company are interrelated and who all the stakeholders are (perhaps in different offices or even countries). This is the information you will need to fall back on to effectively manage Objections later – i.e. what has changed since you first discussed their challenges?

Without a thorough Discovery you will miss the essential information you need to not just build a better proposal but also build a better relationship as you are demonstrating your interest in solving their problems and not just rushing to make a sale.

It’s not about you, and you need to keep your eyes and ears open and focused on your prospective customer’s problems so you can guide the Sales Cycle to its logical end. Take the time to fully understand their areas of business challenges from their point of view.

If you are unsure of how to properly identify and qualify potential Sales Prospects, outsourcing this function to a company that has broad experience in determining ‘real’ opportunities from those you will only spin your wheels on is a sound option to consider. We will identify the type of Sales Prospect that is most probable to have the type of business challenges your solutions can be aligned to (your Target Market), and coach your Team on a Methodology to follow for a thorough Discoveries process, thus greatly increasing your probability for success!

About the Author:

Martin Beauclair is an Entrepreneur, Business Leader and Active Supporter of Start-up Communities.  For the past 20+ years he has launched and managed numerous technology product offerings, serving as Sr. Vice-President of Sales & Business Development at IgeaCare Group of Companies, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at GlobeStar Systems and Director of Sales & Marketing at Edwards Systems Technology (Now GE Security).

Today Martin heads up Access2Sales as CEO, and recently founded FalconRidge Trading, a related Strategic Sales company.

Martin is a certified ADMA (Accredited Professional Administrator), a member of the AMA (American Marketing Association) and both UPSA & CPSA Professional Sales Associations.  He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School (AMP), a bilingual BAA (Bachelor in Business Administration) from the University of Ottawa, and also holds an MBA in International Business Management from Laval University.

He is currently pursuing his PhD in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix, and is a self-proclaimed ‘life-long learner’.

But what ultimately drives him at the end of the day?  Simply,

“To Grow Companies by Creating and Leading High Performance Sales Teams.”