In my last article, we looked at how important it is to make sure sales team leaders have oversight of the staged lead conversion process. If the proper procedures are not in place, a lot of the groundwork that went into generating, qualifying and cultivating leads can be easily lost.
Salespeople who don’t follow the process can, in the end, undermine the entire business. More often than not, they set the wrong expectations, oversell the solution and/or waste valuable sales and marketing resources by pursuing the wrong prospect. There is nothing wrong with moving quickly through the process if everything is in order and there is full support from the prospect and the vendor management, but going it alone is usually a recipe for disaster.
Vendors also need to ensure that the mix of prospects is sufficient to meet sales objectives. While a few large speculative deals keep salespeople energised, a healthy portfolio of smaller but high probability deals ensures that targets can be achieved.
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What vendors have to be very careful of is the salesperson who attempts to push the prospect to close the sale with a solution that is not best for the prospect. While this may result in a sale, it is almost certainly going to result in an unsatisfied customer with negative consequences for repeat sales and referrals business.
A sales process which is managed properly builds confidence in the eyes of the prospect. They see a quality process which is addressing their concerns, validating their needs and offering solutions which meet their requirements. If they withdraw due to events outside their control or because other priorities have intervened, they know they can come back and enter into the conversation again with confidence. If the vendor believes the prospect will have future potential, then treating them well during the sales engagement will allow them to build a positive relationship which they can nurture over time until the prospect is sales ready.
As a vendor, we want to build a referral base. Just because a prospect does not continue through to a sale does not mean they will not become a positive referral. Providing the prospect is treated well and gains a good understanding of what the vendor offers by way of solutions, they can become advocates of the vendor to other individuals and organisations looking for a solution. As a vendor, we should treat every prospect as a potential source of future leads.