As we’ve discussed here (Who is Buying? Identifying the right stakholders in your deal) and here (Knowing the 5.4 people in your deal), how companies buy high-value goods and services has changed pretty radically over the last decade. So has the pressure on sales organizations to accurately forecast and drive revenue.
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What Does Strong Stakeholder Management Look Like?
Like most everything in business, stakeholder management is mainly about execution. You can identify the right decision makers in a deal, but how do you manage them? How do you shepherd an entire buying center towards dry ink? Relationship management throughout the sales cycle looks very different when four, five or ten people are involved. And, the probability of stakeholders falling off the wagon or going rogue is much higher.
Presently, the concept of Sales Enablement gets a lot of attention from the sales community. Especially from sales leaders who are struggling to meet their numbers. They initiate sales enablement projects, hoping that a group of external consultants with broad expertise in sales management can get their sales organization back on track. Months and hundreds of thousands of dollars later, the consultants leave. After another couple of months, sales leadership realizes that the adoption of the new initiatives is everything, but a success.
Here we go again. The strong sales pipeline you presented six months ago has now turned into a weak excuse for a forecast. Presenting an uncertain sales pipeline and a flimsy forecast to management is not what you planned two quarters ago. Everybody hates a tax audit. A pipeline audit with top management is not much better!
If it's important to you - you'll find a way
If not - you'll find an excuse
No More Excuses
The excuses are many: Financial crisis. Economic downturn. Contiunous struggles with some of your key accounts. Competition is stronger and more aggressive than ever. Our product needs refinement to meet the new demands....the list of excuses is long.
Decades ago, psychotherapist Thom Hartmann proposed two mental models that described how people go about their work:
A) The hunter mindset, based on nomadic societies, suffered from a short attention span but had hyper focus for short bursts of time.
B) The farmer, based on agrarian societies, was patient and worked steadily with the understanding that he would enjoy the fruit of his labor in the future.
In order to grow, you need customers – but not just any customers. You need customers that will value what you sell. Unfortunately, if you’re like most sales people, you have no idea of the value that you sell. Why is this?
Most sales leaders strive to document and refine their sales process in order to provide direction to their sales team. Once this is done, the documented process becomes a problem.
Salespeople, who are usually mavericks by nature, tend to push back on and pay lip service to adoption. Furthermore, the process never seems quite right, and most importantly, prospects don’t cooperate. This is because when we think of a sales process, we tend to think linearly. This is reflected in most sales funnels. As a deal progresses from one stage to the next, why is there an automatic assumption that the probability for success goes up? If three different companies are strenuously pursuing the same opportunity and all three move it to proposal stage, does it make sense for all three to report that the probability for success has just increased? It’s a zero sum game and only one, if any, will win the deal! That means when the deal goes to proposal stage, the probability for success just went down significantly for at least two of the three.
Anyone who ever tried completing a marathon or another physical challenge knows the feeling of focused training, the importance of hard disciplined work, the urge to "give up", exhaustion beyond what is good you, and above all the enormous sense of relief and invincibility (at least on a psychological level).
Every successful organization knows how to communicate in a way that leaves no room for individual interpretation.
An article by Greg McKeown of Quartz.com describes why Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are so succesful.
Their answer to the question: What is the most important reason to your success? Focus!
Same metric applies when it comes to complex selling. But how do you figure out what exactly to focus on?
It's no secret that when it comes to complex selling and managing sales opportunities there are, what seems like a million things to focus on. Determining which of all the moving parts to focus on is a daunting task.
That is why we created ARPEDIO...