Improve Your Win Rate and Shorten Your Sales Cycle by Doing This

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Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

In September I wrote this article on the difference between asking good, tough and great questions.

I included examples all three types of question in the article.

There is also a proper sequence:  Good question.  Tough Question.  Great question.

You will get immediate feedback on how effective your questions are:  Your prospects will say, "Good question" when you ask one.  They will say, "Great question" when you ask one.  And they will stop and struggle before answering one of your tough questions.

Many salespeople make the mistake of preparing questions in advance. Salespeople who do that might be able to stumble onto one good question.  But great questions and tough questions must be spontaneous and in response to something your prospect already said when they answered prior questions.  

I'll share a role-play from a training program that wonderfully demonstrates what I'm talking about as well as the kind of listening skills required in order to ask good, tough and great questions. 

The role-play sheds much needed light on what salespeople tend to do on their calls, even when they have been trained to use a consultative approach to selling.  Instead of listening, they skip ahead, and rush to the close.  Ironically, the proper approach is counter intuitive. You will shorten your sales cycle, improve your win rate and gain traction by slowing down, while speeding up leads to longer sales cycles and lower win rates.

The role-play runs for about 26-minutes but please don't let that discourage you from listening.  You'll learn so much about listening and asking questions, you'll learn just how impactful role-plays can be, and you'll better understand the the most useful approach to training salespeople; powerful, interactive role-plays.

You can watch and listen to the role-play here.  The actual role-play begins at around 50 seconds in.  Early on I reference developing SOB Quality.  You can learn more about what SOB Quality means by watching this 3-minute video.

We can teach your sales team how to achieve SOB quality. Call us at 800-700-6507.

 

It’s a Trap! Why Your RFP Response Rarely Wins

Jason Jordan

How to Craft an RFP Response

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Identify whether you already have a relationship with the RFP issuer, consider if you have an RFP “Swat Team” ready to go, and don’t let excitement fool you into thinking the deal is yours. Consider whether this is truly a qualified lead and be willing to walk if it means saving valuable time and resources.

Many salespeople become giddy when they see an RFP (Request for Proposal) that falls within their sales area. Because it looks like there’s strong alignment between what a company requests and what they sell, the deal is as good as done.

Not so fast! Let’s look at this more closely and examine your chances of success with RFPs -- and how you can enhance them.

Are RFPs the Perfectly Qualified Sales Lead?

One of the first things reps are taught is the importance of qualifying new leads. A qualified lead stands a good chance of being won, but an unqualified lead may cost you days, months, and sometimes years of wasted effort.

What is a qualified lead?

1.   The prospective buyer must have a clearly articulated need

2.   There must be a purchasing timeline

3.   The purchase must have an allocated budget

4.   The buying process and its participants must be defined

The question is, how should you treat an RFP? An RFP is a document issued by a purchasing company to a select group of vendors they believe can meet their company needs. The qualification criteria listed above is typically in place. And, on the surface, an RFP appears to be a perfectly qualified lead.

But is it really?

What Is a Request for Proposal?

A request for proposal is a document issued by a company asking select vendors to submit proposals for their consideration. Vendors are usually required to submit timelines, budgets, company information, and even a project. The RFP issuer then reviews all proposals and selects a winning vendor who is awarded their business.

Is the Deck Stacked Against You?

How many times have you and your fellow reps reacted with excitement when an apparently winnable RFP hit your desk? How many hours did you spend assembling a team to write a proposal, gather information and data, answer the questions, revise and review, and finally submit the RFP, believing it would bring you a windfall? And how many times have you failed?

For example, one day, I received a call from the head of sales at a large manufacturer. He had read a piece I’d published online and was interested to learn if my company could help him define a new sales strategy for his team.

Over the next several weeks, my team defined the scope of work, created a project plan to help his sales force, assigned resources to the effort, and selected a kick-off date. Prior to the kick-off date, however, I received an alarming call. He’d been informed the project must be put ‘out to bid’ to at least two other vendors, because its total cost exceeded $500,000.

Apparently, our “slam-dunk” would have some competition. A vendor-selection committee had been formed, and we were not invited because, “There’s no need to worry,” said the head of sales. “We’re still going to do this project with you.

Despite my protestations and sense of panic, my contact assured me, “Just sit tight. Give me two weeks, and then we’ll pick up where we left off.” True to his word, we were back on the telephone two weeks later rescheduling the project kick-off meeting.

What happened during those two weeks?

Our client had issued an RFP and received proposals from three consulting firms. Even though we were not the lowest bidder, we were the successful bidder because, in the words of my contact, “It was your project. I just had to jump through some hoops to make it work internally.” In other words, the entire RFP process was essentially a sham.

This is a great story if you’re the beneficiary of these shenanigans, but not if you’re the loser. The other three consulting firms had entered an imaginary contest to win an unwinnable project. Imagine the time, energy, and resources expended by all in these two, short weeks.

Before Submitting Your RFP Response, Remember These Lessons

1. RFPs are hard to evaluate. RFPs might have a defined need, timeline, budget, and buying process -- but they’re much harder to evaluate than regular leads.

2. RFPs might look like highly qualified but, often, they’re not. When presented with an RFP, try to talk yourself out of responding to it, rather than automatically assuming you should. Win rates are usually against you. “Losing” the RFP by failing to bid can be a gain, because you’ve not wasted precious resources.

3. No existing relationship with the issuer? You’ve probably already lost. And you’ve definitely lost if the RFP response you send is the first time the purchaser is seeing your name.

4. Your company’s online presence and thought leadership is vital to successfully influencing purchasing decisions. Successful content marketing is key to influencing decision makers, most of whom are already halfway through the decision-making process before receiving your response.

5. Create an in-house RFP process and RFP response “swat team” to quickly and efficiently respond to requests without causing an unnecessary drain on internal resources.

6. Don't expect a successful sale. It might seem like the stage is set for a successful purchase. But it’s not necessarily set for a successful sale. Don’t let the excitement of an inevitable purchase fool you into believing it’s your inevitable sale.

I'm not saying you should never submit an RFP proposal, but I am saying there's no golden ticket in sales -- and that extends to RFPs. Consider whether this RFP is a realistic goal, and whether it's the best use of your team's time before crafting a response.

Originally posted by Hubspot

 

For Women in Pursuit of Motherhood and a Career

Mother's Day is just around the corner. Today we are taking a moment to celebrate working mothers by sharing Irena Mora's Ted Talk. Irene Mora credits her own ambition and drive to her mother, the successful CEO of a multinational company. From her unique childhood -- hopping around the world and being exposed to new environments -- Mora learned valuable skills that later informed and helped her excel in business, including adaptability, authenticity and independence. Mora encourages mothers to pursue a family and a career -- their kids may just thank them for it.

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Business

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Spring is here and many of us are taking the time to organize, freshen, and slough off the old winter heaviness and create a light, clean approach to life. Spring is not only a great opportunity to clean the space within your home. But it's also an opportunity to clean up your systems and organization at work. Today we will share five approaches that top executives use to to spring cleaning each year.

UNSUBSCRIBE

You receive hundreds of emails each week that you may automatically delete. Take a few minutes every day to unsubscribe from the email lists you never read. In addition, review your social media accounts. If there are accounts or pages you are no longer interest in, then unsubscribe or unfollow.

SAY GOODBYE

When cleaning out your closet, organizers recommend that if you haven't worn it in the last year, it needs to go. The same rule can be applied to certain areas of your business. Some areas get neglected due to a lack of resources, so it’s the time to look specifically at those, see how they might be better incorporated, or just get rid of them if they have gone this long without any notice or results.

GO DIGITAL

Continually look for ways to get rid of paper processes. In the digital age files, photos, and scans help an office run more efficiently. Evaluate your business to determine if there is an area that is slower due to manual, paper processes.

QUESTION EVERYTHING

Gather the team to brainstorm every area of your department or company. Ask the question, "Is this the best way to handle this area?" "Is there a more efficient system that we could implement?"

REVIEW STAFFING

This doesn't mean that it's time to begin downsizing. But take a moment to review the staff, their strengths, job descriptions, and the duties they actually carry out on a month-to-month basis. Is downsizing an option? Would cross-training be better? Take some time to evaluate.