As the quarter or year end approaches the challenge is to go faster while staying safe. It is to accelerate sales activity, while maintaining a high win rate. On the sales circuit, just as on the race circuit, getting the balance of speed and safety is key.
Selling is a risky business. Just look at some of the numbers. For most salespeople the odds of meeting target are just about 50:50. So, there is a lot of risk associated with meeting the sales number for the year.
Looking at the sales cycle as a circuit the seller has to compete one circuit for each sale. But just like any racetrack there are some hazards to be navigated before crossing the finish line.
Meeting this quarter or year’s target requires successfully completing 10, 20, or maybe even 30 laps of the circuit. Indeed, one of the key risks is not getting to complete the required number of circuits. For any deal lost the sellers must complete yet another lap of the circuit.
As you can see, The Sales Circuit™ is a re-framing of the traditional sales process (you can find out more about its importance here). It is a visual representation of the opportunities and challenges facing the seller as they advance towards the finishing line in respect of each sale.
The Sales Circuit™ shows all those factors that could jeopardize win rates and performance and reflects the reality that of all the sales cycles that get started only a small proportion (8%) are successfully completed.
Just as any race track has curves and corners to test the driver’s skill, the Sales Circuit™ highlights the key success factors for the seller. The reality is that there are a lot of potential obstacles to winning the sale.
In respect of the Complex B2B Sale there are no fewer than 16 critical points on the circuit. These are points at which the car could leave the road or the sale get de-railed. They require particular care and skill on the part of the seller.
If the sale is going to be lost then it is at one of 16 points shown on the Sales Circuit™ below.
In more recent times the emphasis in F1 racing has shifted from speed alone, to speed and safety(1). Today’s driver have fireproof suits, a super-strong helmet, neck and head supports and sit within a rigid frame strengthened for protection. Yet high speeds and difficult tracks still make Formula One a dangerous sport.
Hitting metal or concrete barriers at high speed can be fatal in F1 racing (2). Over the years there have been great technical advances that promise to keep drivers safer.
- Prevent lost deals?
- Avoid being out-maneuvered or clipped by a competitor?
- Avoid shocks and surprises?
At the tricky parts of the Sales Circuit™ some form of safety protection is needed.
At each critical twist or turn of the Sales Circuit™ the seller can stay safe by addressing and re-addressing the key aspects of staying on course to win the deal – the 3 dimensions of the buying decision. Let’s look at each in turn.
If the seller is to confidently stay on-track he, or she must understand HOW the buying decision will be made. That is the buyer’s process, including the steps and stages, information requirements and sign off processes that will be required before a decision can be made. They may be informal or formal processes (dictated by procurement).
Perhaps the most important factor in keeping the seller safe is the full knowledge of the buyer’s rationale for the decision. That is WHY the decision will be made and it includes the buyer’s decision criteria, and a lot more (such as the customer’s definition of success, the business justificaiton/business case required). It is also what is required by managers who need to get the purchase sanctioned internally, or to secure budget. The WHY of the decision is really what gives the seller traction.
A key reason for deals being lost is the challenge of identifying and engaging with all of the key stakeholders involved in making a decision. This is particular important given the role played by procurement and finance in many buying decisions.
The seller can prevent spills from their pipeline by understanding WHO will really make & shape the buying decision , considering the role and influence of the extended Buying Team.
Using the WHO, HOW and WHY formula is key to keeping the driver safe and preventing stalled or lost deals. Of course the formula is not as simple as it at first seems – it is underpinned by extensive research into how buying decisions are made. This research as spawned 3 books and being recognized as industry-leading (ES Research 2012). You can see our buyer research syndicated widely across the web and posted on Seller-Buyer Insights.
(1) Formula One has always been dangerous. In the early days the sport was all about making cars going faster, with little concern for safety. Good luck charms were worn instead of seat-belts, together with leather helmets and cotton overalls. There were only straw barriers with spectators allowed to stand where they wanted.
(2) Hitting metal or concrete barriers at high speed is can be fatal – as the tragic deaths of Aryton Senna and Roland Ratzenberder at the Spanish Grand Prix showed in 1994.