I remember when Jake, one of my Sales Executives, came back from the road announcing he finally had a big opportunity after meeting with one of his dream prospects. Not to discourage him, I said, “That’s great. What happened?”. The business owner he met that morning asked him to put a proposal together and meet again next week. I asked: “Why?”. He looked at me and replied while frowning his forehead. “What do you mean, why? I have been waiting and hoping for this moment for a long time; they are willing to give me the opportunity. I have all their requirements”. Although he believed this was the biggest opportunity he had been hoping for, he did not get the business. Why not? Just because Jake thought he had an opportunity, the business owner thought differently. She just wanted to test the market, see what else is out there and compare if their current supplier charges them at market rates. If you are hoping for opportunities, then you are a prisoner of hope.
There is a distinct difference between “taking” an opportunity because your prospect agreed to you to put a proposal together or proactively “creating” opportunities. The first is being passive, waiting reactively for an opportunity to come by. The second is selling with the buyer’s perspective, leading with insights, and creating a case for change. Needless to say that “taking” opportunities have lower closer ratios, and “creating” opportunities have greater success rates. Forrester Research identified that salespersons who can gain the prospect’s interest to kick-start their buying process could double their closing ratios to 70%.
This should encourage every salesperson to work hard to be that value-creator right at the beginning of the prospect’s buying process. This research should be your motivator. Every company is on the look-out for growth and hitting its budget targets. They have teams looking into every aspect of growth, innovation, and competitiveness. But they do not have all the answers, and that’s why they keep meeting with salespeople. Figure out what information is missing and how you can help. This requires the mindset of a Trusted Advisor who is focused on delivering strategic value
- What relevant insights can you share?
- What is the impact of that insight?
- What is the impact for your prospect of not changing?
- What ideas of growth can you share?
- What stories of similar businesses with similar challenges can you tell?
- What vision of a future state can you layout?
- What business case for change have you prepared?
- What ROI do you propose?
Review your current pipeline and re-consider the feasibility of pursuing the Takers. Believe you can help your prospect and make a difference to their business with the opportunities you created. Don’t be a prisoner of hope.
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