If your sales team is responsible for closing complex enterprise deals, you know that the process can be lengthy and complex. You’re probably also painfully aware that it can be fraught with peril. Anything from an unexpected objection to a shift in leadership can undo your team’s progress and kill the deal.
High-performing sales teams understand that the key to closing more deals lies in a critical understanding the buyer’s process. These high performers leverage that understanding to anticipate obstacles and effectively drive the process to completion.
Here are six questions to help your team members gauge the strength of an opportunity:
1. What steps are included in the customer’s decision process?
Take the time to understand how many stakeholders are involved in the process, who they each are, and when they will each become involved in the process. What are the key concerns for each stakeholder, and what questions will they ask? What obstacles might they each introduce? As a seller, you need to know the people who will be part of the buying decision and be audible-ready to articulate how your solution can impact their component of the business.
2. Have I documented all the activities involved in validating and approving the solution?
Once you understand the steps involved, identify the activities and communications necessary at each stage to address key concerns, validate your solution, and win approval from the relevant stakeholders. When you move through multiple decision makers in your buying organization, you need to determine the positive business outcomes, the required capabilities, and the metrics that are important to each buyer. Approach each decision maker as a new discovery opportunity. Are the required capabilities, and metrics others indicated in previous conversations, just as important to this particular decision maker? If not, you need to determine and understand the discrepancy.
3. Have I developed a reverse timeline accounting for all events, responsible parties & dependent activities? Do I know who could alter this timeline?
Determining the customer’s buying time frame will help provide the benchmarks you need to move forward. Start with the desired outcome and then work backwards. Determining the customer’s buying timeline will help provide the benchmarks you need to move the deal forward.
4. Are both my customer and myself vested in this timeline?
Is your customer looking to make a decision this year? This quarter? Has funding been allocated to the project? Maximize your time as a seller. Determining the time frame and then identifying next steps will help you either move the deal forward or put it aside to concentrate on more ready-to-act customers.
5. Have I reviewed these timelines with my Champion, the Economic Buyer, finance, purchasing and/or anyone who could veto a decision that favors you?
When you have multiple decision makers, it's critical you are not only validating the PBOs, Required Capabilities and Metrics, but also the overall timeline. This will help prevent surprises along the sales process.
6. Who can change the process? Who is controlling the process?
Remember, understanding the people involved in the buying process will help you understand who can change the process and who ultimately will make the final decision. Understanding the players will help you continually create and capture value for the customer in your sales conversations.
Simply following a structured sales process doesn’t guarantee the deal will close. You need to have a solid understanding of who can change or control process. Make sure your team is consistently qualifying all opportunities with avalidated qualification process. It’s a sure way to prove an opportunity warrants your investment of time and resources.