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Safeguarding your Sales Opportunities

Posted by Philip Kreindler on 09-May-2016 09:00:00

Safeguarding_sales_opportunities.pngI have argued in previous blogs that the old school Deal Review should be a thing of the past and everyone should move to a very different model – the Deal Pit-Stop. Having closely observed a number of Deal Reviews at the US headquarters of a highly successful Financial Services company I have shifted my view somewhat and so have the company.

Deal Reviews

Sales Managers don’t want Sales People wasting their time and company resources pursuing opportunities that are never going to convert. And senior management doesn’t want the Sales Team winning business that the organisation cannot fulfil or that will lose money. So it’s no surprise that many Sales People see Deal Reviews as meetings where lots of critical questions are asked about the solution and pricing, and at the same time as not giving them any new ideas to win the deal!

My response in the past was to say ditch Deal Reviews and replace them with Deal Pit-Stops; more about that later.

The eye opener for me

Recently I listened in a series of Deal Reviews (with the knowledge of all involved) at the global Financial Services company mentioned earlier. They were focussed almost entirely on 2 things: one, could the organisation deliver the solution required and secondly could it be delivered profitably. I was concerned that little or nothing was discussed regarding key aspects of the Sales Process and no support was offered to the Sales People to help them do a better job of ensuring the opportunities that could be delivered at a profit were actually won!

But, the more I thought about these meetings the more I concluded that they performed an important function. Without this sort of review Sales People could waste time on opportunities – and win them – only to fail to deliver a workable solution or not deliver a profit on the deal. 

So I worked with this company to implement a process that included these crucial viability and profitability Deal Reviews along with Deal Pit-Stops.

Deal Reviews

When you look at the solution we developed for this company please bear in mind that it is a customized solution. This is a solution that we all agree will suit the way they work – but it might not be right for you. Or it might be right for some of your opportunities but not others.

The Deal Review is to be retained and has 2 goals. Firstly, to ensure the solution will effectively meet the needs of the customer. Secondly, can that solution be delivered within the customers’ budget while retaining a reasonable profit margin? The Deal Review takes place before the proposal is submitted and involves Sales, Sales Management, Finance, Solution Specialists, Project Management and Legal to cover contract issues.

Deal Pit-Stops

For this particular company we have agreed there will be 2 Deal Pit-Stops. The first will be an early stage meeting to qualify the opportunity and ensure the Sales Person knows everything that is required to progress the opportunity through the Sales Process and gets the resources they need.

The role of the Sales Manager is crucial in asking all the right questions, thinking creatively about ways to work around potential problems and really probing into any issues that might make the opportunity unviable. The Sales Person should expect to be challenged by the Sales Manager and have to make a good case for an opportunity they believe in, but there is less incentive to ‘window dress’ the opportunity because everyone is looking for the best opportunities to work on.

However disappointing it may be for an eager Sales Person to be told their opportunity is a ‘dead horse’ they are better off working on an opportunity with a real chance of success.

The second Pit-Stop will be carried out prior to writing the proposal - before the Deal Review. It’s a check to ensure that all the steps in the Sales Process have been completed and a final opportunity to work on any areas of concern. We tried this at the Financial Services company I mentioned above and the effect was quite dramatic. We carried out a Deal Pit-Stop for an opportunity with a 90% likelihood of success. But, as we looked carefully at the Buying Centre, many issues emerged. The customer had reorganised the management structure and in the new structure the supporters of our client’s solution were now less influential and the supporters of the competition were now much more influential.

There was just enough time for the Sales Team to go back in and develop a relationship with the part of the Buying Centre they had previously ignored. But critical for the organisation – from senior management to the sales team – they saw the value of Deal Pit-Stops and I saw the value of combining them with Deal Reviews that concentrate on solution viability and profitability.

I have written previous blogs about how to run a Deal Pit-Stop and you will find a detailed description in my recently published book, Customerized Selling - Learn How Customers Want You To Sell.

Ask yourself

  • Do you run Deal Reviews, Deal Pit Stops or neither?

  • Do your Reviews really examine the Sales Process?

  • Do Sales People come out of your reviews motivated and equipped to do a better job?

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