Yes, selling can be a very complex process…
Especially the larger the price tag and the complexity of the deal.
But, if you understand how to look at the process, and your strengths in it, you will be better able to identify where you excel and how you should position your skills.
When I took my Dale Carnegie sales course many years ago, it described the sales process or steps as Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, and Close. Most all sales methodologies have some form of this process map.
The reason is simple – you (the seller) need to know where you are in the sales process to utilize the right tools and techniques for that step.
Each of these steps is distinct and requires specific capabilities. The buyers are in a different state of mind at each step. Often the transition between steps can happen very quickly, almost seamlessly.
Some salespeople are excellent at all of these steps. They’re commonly referred to as “Unicorns”.
Whereas most salespeople are very good at some and not so good at others.
Do you know which one is your strength?
Do you know which ones you need to work on more?
Do you even understand the differences between the steps?
A more commonly discussed way to look at salespeople is to categorize them as hunters versus farmers.
The emphasis here is to say that hunters open accounts while farmers grow accounts.
Generally, a hunter views sales as a numbers game and is out looking to find the next new account. While a farmer believes that sales are a people game.
They are out working their way through an organization, building relationships, and looking to leverage their Rolodex to open new opportunities or lines of business in the account.
Businesses that need to grow their new account base, are selling a single product or service, or are looking to open a market, will gravitate towards hunters. High pressure, high reward.
While farmers are optimized by organizations selling to large accounts and have enterprise-class offerings.
Sales cycles in large accounts can be 6 to 12 to 20 months and the potential for the upsell and cross-sell can be multiples of the initial deal.
It’s not uncommon for an organization to open an account with a hunter and then expand it with a farmer.
It is actually a good way to classify salespeople, but it should not be used to the exclusion of the steps defined above. Both are important to understanding your Power.
Your assignment, should you choose to do it, is to look at yourself objectively and determine in which of the steps of the sales process you excel, in which you’re mediocre, and in which you are poor.
There are two ways to approach this exercise.
In the first approach, objectively review your performance and identify in which of those stages you’ve lost a deal, or which is the hardest stage for you to overcome to help make your number. Rank them and then start focusing on the stage with the most impact.
The objective is not to master that stage or any of the others immediately, but to develop an acceptable base level of competence in each one, starting with the one with the highest impact on your ability to progress a deal.
The alternative approach is to focus first on the step where you are the strongest…
Build your confidence and skill in that and you will be better able to focus on improving in the next step.
Unless you are a solo entrepreneur, you have a team to support your sales efforts.
By honestly understanding your strengths and weaknesses, you can tap into the other members of your organization to support you where you are not as strong.
If the other team members are guided and coached properly (not told!) you will sell more and be worth more to your organization.