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December 11, 2014
Last week, I spoke with a technically minded VAR business owner who was also his company’s primary salesperson. The company wasn’t growing and he was clearly frustrated by that. But he also revealed that he was proud of not being a “typical salesperson.” Instead of adhering to a proven sales process, he admitted to “winging it”—playing sales opportunities by ear and hoping for the best. By doing that, he assumed that he would appear more genuine and, as a result, win more deals.
But here’s the truth: “Winging” it doesn’t lead to more sales. In fact, if very often leads to frustrated prospects, longer sales cycles and stagnant (or declining) company growth. More specifically, here are seven big reasons why the “just wing it” approach is a very bad idea:
Longer sales process. With no plan, you tend to leave meetings without the information you need. As a result, you don’t know what the next meeting should cover (or when it will be). And that leads to the sales process dragging out longer than it should.
Fewer opportunities and referrals. Prospects like to be guided through the sales process just like customers prefer to be guided through an implementation. If your questions miss the mark or you don’t know the next steps, then it’s unlikely prospects will move forward with you. And they certainly won’t refer you to others.
Less executive access. When you appear disorganized, you’ll come across as unprofessional. And when that’s the perception, there’s little chance midlevel managers will grant you access to executive decision makers.
Incorrect recommendations. If you don’t carefully plan your questions, you may not uncover a prospect’s full story—and that often leads to solution recommendations that miss the mark, which isn’t exactly a recipe for sales success.
More negotiation, more dickering, more discounts. A planned approach to your sales process helps you ask the right questions and quickly deliver a proposal that matches the prospect’s needs and perceived value. When you wing it, proposals tend to miss the mark and fierce negotiations ensue.
Higher cost of sale and lower profit margin. As the sales process drags on, it typically translates to more meetings, more proposals, more time and fewer sales. Collectively, those factors dramatically impact profitability.
Lower win rates. When you lack key information about prospects, access to decision makers and any sort of process to nurture customers through the funnel, you’ll close fewer deals. It’s that simple.
For most technical VAR owners, the simplest way to think about the value of a sales process is to think about how you’d implement a new system—planning out every detail, following a logical install process and making sure every box was checked before moving on.
Why would you treat sales any differently? Ultimately, sales is just another form of operations. It needs a proven process and a plan. And if you stick to that plan, you’ll almost always achieve greater results.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book “The Sales Magnet” and the award winning book "Selling Against the Goal" and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the small and midmarket business (SMB) segment.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the award-winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.
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