As one of the leading telemarketing, telesales and high level sales appointment setting businesses in the UK we do spend a good deal of time thinking about how the sales process works. We not only like sharing our own wit and wisdom gained over almost 30 years of professional sales training and activity with our clients but also sharing the well thought out views of others.
As we’ve mentioned before one of our favourite sales thinkers at the moment is Steve W. Martin who teaches sales strategy at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business. Steve is a “thought leader” in matters of sales and “reaches out” to sales professionals across the globe both through his books and his blogs.(Spot the neat bit of Californication in that sentence!)
He regularly interviews sales professionals about a whole array of sales issues. He recently set about studying the obstacles that prevent sales people closing more business. These sales pros were in US companies running revenues between 50,000,000 and 500,000,000 dollars.
Steve was able to draw up a list of what most made sales people suffer, closing large ticket sales.
Now,we spend the majority of our time opening up very significant sales opportunities for our clients. Quite regularly they are multi million pounds or euros opportunities. Our client’s sales cycles are often months and some times years long. After the meetings we set, which themselves are hard to get, there may be many further meetings, RFI’s,RFP’s and RFQ’s, lengthy tender documents, board room presentations, supplier audits; crunching meetings with the procurement teams before making a final decision – or not.
Below is Steve’s list of the most frequently mentioned responses ranked from most to least important.
It’s interesting that “Inability to penetrate new accounts” ranks as the third most significant obstacle to winning new business. It’s what we do every day on behalf of our clients.There’s no getting away from it, it is tough work opening up significant new sales opportunities. Some people regard appointment making as the easy bit. Not if carried out correctly! One of our mantras is that we will not make our clients “busy fools”. Time, shoe leather and petrol are too expensive to be attending poorly qualified sales appointments.
So that’s barrier number 3 removed!
So here’s Steve’s Top Ten Reasons for those big deals not getting closed – recognise any of these?
The real enemy of salespeople today isn’t their arch rivals; it’s no decision. Customers will go to great lengths to reduce the stress of buying. They list their needs in RFP documents that are hundreds of pages in length. They hire consultants to verify that they are making the right decisions. They’ll conduct lengthy product evaluations and talk to existing users of the products to ensure they work as advertised. People take all these steps in an effort to eliminate their fears, reduce their uncertainties, and satisfy their doubts. However, customers are never 100 percent sure they are purchasing the right product and there are always naysayers in the organization who are against moving forward. As a result, customers frequently won’t make a purchase even after an exhaustive evaluation.
Stalled Sales Cycles.
Customers are more cautious than ever and moving the client to the point where they will make a purchase is a formidable undertaking. In some cases, the excitement generated by the salesperson’s initial 30,000 foot sales pitch to senior executives didn’t motivate meaningful follow-up from the lower level personnel of the customer’s organization. At other accounts, prospective buyers weren’t experienced with purchasing products. They didn’t understand how to sell their project internally and were unable to garner senior executive sponsorship. During lengthy sales cycles, evaluators frequently become reoriented toward other emergencies and the decision makers disappeared. Increasingly, purchasing has more say over decisions that were previously made solely by business areas. You can introduce Procurement very late during a sales cycle and reopen the process long after the salesperson thinks he has already won the deal.
Inability to Penetrate New Accounts.
One of the most difficult tasks in all of sales is to penetrate new accounts. Salespeople continually cited how hard it was to generate initial customer interest and secure an introductory meeting. In almost every interview, salespeople also lamented the lack of leads being generated by their marketing department as well.
Nearly every market today has matured to the point where there is very little difference between the features, functions, and specifications of the competitive products.
Price versus Value.
From the customer’s standpoint, the cost of the salesperson’s solution was prohibitive because the perceived value of the operational benefits did not justify the price. In other cases, a competitor’s price was significantly less thereby blocking the salesperson’s future involvement in the sales cycle.
800 Pound Gorilla.
Many underdog sales organizations have to compete against the mindshare of 800 pound gorillas in their marketplace. Companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and IBM are so dominant in their particular industry that they win business by default.
During these tough economic times, companies have drastically cut back on any type of non-essential or luxury PURCHASE . In other situations, the salespeople indicated they lacked the financial arguments and real-world proof points to move their product into the “must-have” category.
At many companies the difficult task of winning over new customers is equal to the effort required to sell the deal internally. Salespeople not only have to rally internal support to pursue an account, they must aggressively justify the approval of legitimate business terms and pricing concessions. They also have to contend with long-drawn-out internal processes to generate proposals, quotes, and contracts that can impact deal momentum.
Furthermore, salespeople complained that excessive updating of CRM systems, time consuming forms/reports required by management, and post-sales administration activities sapped valuable selling time in the field.
Many sales organizations do not have enough pre-sales and product specialists to fully support all sales efforts. In addition, these technical resources also serve as an important escalation focal point should problems arise during the initial product implementation. When the customer has a negative experience it hinders future purchases and the lack of referenceable customers impacts sales efforts overall.
If you want to talk to us about how our high level sales appointment making can give you a greater chance of closing significant new business give us a call on 0800 988 7253 or read about our appointment setting services here.
Additionally go check out Steve’s latest book – it’s a click away below
Steve W. Martin teaches sales strategy at the USC Marshall School of Business. His new book is titled Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics: 101 Advanced Sales Call Strategies for Senior Salespeople.