From Short List to Top Pick

What do you do when your company is on “The Short List”? When this situation presents itself, it’s the business developer’s role to do the due diligence of follow up. The Short List is the top 2-4 choices a company has for a service provider. By the time you’ve made The Short List, the criteria a company is using to make their choice should be well known by you.

I’ve received information on that follow-up call that has left me stumped, not knowing where to go next with the conversation – especially if things are not leaning in our favor. My strategy is to prep myself with at least three questions before I pick up the phone. And BTW, being on the short list deserves a phone call to your contact, not an email.

Here’s a short list of questions I use in the follow-up process:

1. Where are you in the decision process?
2. Has anything changed since we last spoke?
3. What type of feedback have you received from your colleagues?
4. How are we faring against our competition?
5. Is there anything left for us to do to win this business?

Happy Selling!

Top 3 Influencers for Motivation, Inspiration and the Pursuit of Excellence

Out of everything I’ve listened to or read in the last two weeks, these are my top three (3) picks for motivation and excellence:

David Allen, Author of Getting Things Done for helping me get and stay organized so that I can be in charge of what’s in front of me and not the other way around. Last week I did what David Allen refers to as Inbox To Zero every day, if not twice. Yes, I processed everything in my inbox down to zero so I could see clearly and make mindful, strategic work and personal decisions. It also made the weekend much more fun, knowing that I knew what all was ahead of me in the upcoming work week.

Craig Groeeschel of LifeChurch for inspiring me to lead through the fear of failure. In this sermon he elevates failure as one of our best teachers and something not to be circumnavigated if we are going to succeed.

Michael Pedone of SalesBuzz  for being the sales guru who articulates so many of my own hunches and insights as a business developer. I read his material weekly and often make tweaks to what I’m doing, refining our own process to better serve our clients.  Michael’s material is outstanding.

 

 

 

 

Who’s In Charge? (Driving Action in the Absence of Order)

We live and work in a world of living, breathing people, full of emotion, multi-generational and each of us having varied life experiences.  Scenarios might include a CEO 10 years your junior, arriving to work at 10am after their Crossfit workout. You are surrounded by workers with high emotional needs, many seeking to get them fulfilled at work. Or a sales manager in the wrong role and everyone knows it but won’t say it. Add to this, that few are clear where their roles start and stop.

Place the above circumstances in a culture that sees hierarchy and order as the archenemy and we have a recipe for great confusion with unknown outcomes and allegiances. I am not dissing organizational models that lean towards the flat, but am making a point that lack of hierarchy leads to confusion, which leads to uncertainty. And uncertainty is the road to nowhere.

One way to handle confusion in the chain of command is to simply ask; apply the principle of good communication, keeping things out in the open for all interested parties to see and act upon, if need be: “Is it best that I run with this, or do you want me to check in periodically?” In other words, do you want me to ask for your help or guidance, or am I free to take this and run with it? Even well developed, mature leaders change their minds on how/why they want things done in particular ways. Environmental changes, circumstances or even a bad day can cause your sales manager to have a need for more information than usual. There’s a maturity required to create order when it feels absent.

The other way, is to just run with things, and say, “I’m goin’. Stop me if and when necessary.” In this way, you’ve still created order, offered respect and instilled the certainty that, regardless of confusion, you are headed towards accomplishing the work mission at hand.

Are you selling integrity or solutions?

Never have I heard someone say they are buying based on integrity. They will not hire you if they sense from you that you’re dishonest or shady and they’ll definitely fire you if you lack integrity but NEVER have I heard that they are buying services because you say you have integrity. They may keep you on as a vendor because your integrity is obvious but honesty and integrity are a cost of entry, not a driver.

What to Include in your Business Development Report

Here’s a list of measurable items that belong in a weekly business development report:

1. Number of calls/emails or companies pursued: In some instances, you are pursuing multiple individuals inside a company which may impact the number of companies pursued because you’re digging deep inside an organization.

2. Number of qualifications made each week: This number is an indicator of how good the sales person is at getting someone to respond. Getting a “no” from someone is the next best thing to a “yes” because you can move on from that prospect if there is no current need or interest. A sales person with a good voice mail and email script should yield at least a 20% contact rate.

3. The number of inbound inquiries: This is important to recognize because like it or not, all of your new business efforts should not be the sole responsibility of the salesperson. If you have little outside interest, you need to beef up your marketing strategy and tactics. Market to your database frequently to support your sales efforts.

4. Number of inbound interest calls that are top tier prospects. If you are actively marketing to your database, you should have inbound inquiries and website traffic that gives you valuable information. Over time, track the inquiries and look for meaningful trends (are inbound interest calls and interest inquiries the same?  If so, I think you should be consistent – use the same term throughout).

5. List of companies in the pipeline along with the potential revenue. This one’s obvious but it’s also important to know if they are buyers or just exhibit behaviors that make you think they are buyers.

6. Business closed YTD and also listed by quarter so you can see trends and patterns.

7. Information about business closed and the source of it, i.e., web inquiry, a reader of your online content, cold call, referral, etc.

Why are we meeting?

Here are a few things that go through my head if I’ve agreed to a business meeting or having a conversation with you.I’m sharing my thoughts because my personality profile represents 80% of the decision makers that you sell to:

1. How long will this meeting/conversation take?
2. Don’t over inform me by explaining how you do things.
3. What is our objective today?
4. Don’t try to close our deal with a discount to entice me. If you do, I’ll see you as desperate.
5. Don’t send me long winded informational pdf’s or YouTube videos.
6. Don’t send me a proposal unless we’ve agreed to it.

Sound harsh, short? I promise that I have no ill intent. I have much to do and only wish to make the best time of yours and mine. Let’s find out sooner than later if we should stay in this conversation.

Sincerely,

Your Prospect

What Your Boss Cares About

After having been a sales professional for a good part of (this) professional life, I’ve learned what to bring to the boss and what not to bring to the boss, or those to whom you report your sales outcomes and activities.

One way to find that out is to ask what is important to them. Don’t bog executives down with problems, let them know you’ve created solutions. Inform them that you have problem solving process in place and if you need them for any thing, you will come to them.

If they ask you for detail or examples, give it to them. CEOs don’t live in the weeds. They live in the watch tower so what they need to know about are recurring issues that could, over time, cause their ship to sink.