Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sales Strategy and Customer Decision Making

Brief background: Last week I conducted a webinar called “The Feel Good Funnel” which focused on balancing the quantity of opportunities in a company’s pipeline vs. the quality of those opportunities. Huthwaite’s position is that almost every sales organization’s pipeline is overweight on quantity – quantity of deals and quantity of dollars – at the expense of quality. If a more rigorous qualification process is applied to every deal we will see many of those deals either a) move back in stage, b) reduce in dollar amount, c) push out the close date – or d) taken out of the pipeline altogether. What is the cost of having sales reps working opportunities that are not properly qualified? Think about it in terms of travel costs, management time, lost-opportunity cost, supporting resources, etc. Answer – huge.

Question: During the webinar we received many questions. One interesting one was “can you talk more about aligning the sales strategy to customer decision making. I.e., what are the types of strategies you could deploy?”

What I really liked about this question was it joined two important points that are not commonly joined. That is, a) sales strategy, b) Customer decision making. So many sales strategies and processes are employed based on a series of actions that the sales person must take. A far more effective and successful approach is bringing in the customer’s reality, and examining the commitments that we need the customer to make at each stage. From that, a more realistic and accurate strategy can be developed.

I’m curious – as you look at the pipeline activities in your CRM, what percentage of those are seller-based activities vs. buyer commitments? Our research shows a far greater percentage of seller-based activities and milestones. What does your pipeline say?

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