MARKETING STRATEGIES: Pencil in successful sales meetings

feature-pencil-in-200The major purpose of a systematic staged lead conversion system is to manage the progression of a sales lead through to a sale transaction.

If you examine the history of any sales activity associated with large complex items, you will see that there is a definite path which the prospect follows to arrive at a decision to buy, withdraw or defer. Based on this understanding, it is possible to construct a standard path and manage activities along that path.

What few salespeople appreciate is that there is a very high cost in pursuing prospects who will not buy. Not only are the sales staff devoting time and effort to an ultimately failed end but they are tying up other resources in pursuit of the prospect. There will be administrative activities, out of pocket travel and accommodation expenses, pre-sales consultants’ time and the opportunity cost of not pursuing better prospects.

Many sales people chase the size of the order instead of the probability of making the sale. They will spend an inordinate amount of time on one very large order which may have a very small chance of success simply because the commission is huge if it succeeds. However, with low rates of success, this can tie up significant resources for little end result.

Also, salespeople have a tendency to jump further up the process in the hope of speeding up the deal not appreciating that the prospect usually has their own constraints and processes to work through. This often results in repeated activities as pre-requisite information has not been collected beforehand to make the activity meaningful. Thus is it important to stick to the process unless there is sufficient credible evidence to modify it.

Managing stage by stage should enable the vendor to reject prospects at the earliest possible time before significant resources are expended. It is just as important to reject a poor fit as it is to advance a good fit. At the same time, you also want the prospect to withdraw early if they are not ready to proceed or if they find that they have requirements which the vendor cannot meet.

An objective of prospect engagement is for the vendor to build up a cumulative knowledge of the prospect. At the same time, the prospect firms up their requirements. Few prospects come into the process with a fixed idea of their requirement or of the final solution.