Every salesperson on the planet has an area where their sales typically stall.
For some, it’s filling their pipelines with new prospects. For others, it’s overcoming prospect concerns during sales calls. Regardless of where your sales are stalling now, it is possible to create a crystal ball to use throughout your sales cycle; knowing ahead of time what challenges you’re likely going to encounter and having a strategy already in place to deal with it.
It’s not magic – but it is a system top-performers across the military and the highest-performing companies use to ensure that unexpected problems don’t wreck their results.
To learn how this system works in a sales setting, we sat down with Simon Severino, CEO of Strategy Sprints, a consulting firm that brings Agile methodology into the world of strategic planning.
To create a crystal ball that allows you to identify challenges before they stall your sales, we’ll need to take the time to identify potential challenges before they appear in your prospecting, outreach, and closing processes.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To begin this system, Simon recommends starting by examining the area of your sales cycle you need improvement in the most. That may be finding people to reach out to, it may be getting them into meetings, it may be overcoming prospect concerns when it’s time to make a buying decision, or it may be in generating referrals.
Wherever you most need improvement, identify the common challenges you run into that stall your sales. For instance, let’s say your chief stall point is in overcoming specific prospect concerns.
R – Repeatable: To make this system repeatable so it can be used anywhere across your sales cycle, we need to establish specific steps to walk through so you can eliminate or mitigate these problems before you’re face to face or ear to ear with a prospect and see your sales stalled.
Simon recommends mapping out the top 5 challenges you experience in that specific area and ask what resources, guidance, or insight is available that could help you mitigate or eliminate the challenge that’s stalling your sales. For instance, if you’re dealing with overcoming prospect concerns, your five areas may look like:
Not the right time
Not the right price
Yes, but …
Already using something similar
Don’t understand how this could help us
Address how you’d deal with each of those areas now, so you’re not trying to invent solutions when the sale is on the line in a prospect conversation.
Once we’ve mapped out to concerns and mapped out some potential solution, Simon says not to stop there. Because we’re creating a system for new behavior, we have to practice using it so we become familiar with the new language we’re using, for instance.
If we’re practicing an aspect of our sales conversation, this practice may look like a sales role play where one person plays the role of a prospect and the salesperson practices using the new responses until the conversation sounds natural.
A bonus of role-playing between salespeople is that it naturally energizes them and makes them want to try the new system out!
I – Improvable: Systems don’t remain static in sprints, and they shouldn’t remain static in sales either. Simon says improving a system like this requires reviewing the metrics that matter. One easy metric to examine is why deals are being lost. This is as simple as tracking why a prospect says no or not now and bringing those numbers to a team meeting.
Salespeople will likely see a trend between them, as sales are being lost for the same reason across multiple people. This is an invitation to honestly examine why those lost sales are happening and build a system to address it or update an existing system to ensure it stays up-to-date based on why we’re losing sales.
M – Measurable: To measure the effectiveness of your system, Simon says to first look at whether the place in your sales cycle that was stalling is still stalling as much. Most of the time, we’ll see an improvement in that area after a week or two of use. However, we should also measure whether the system continues to produce results after a few weeks or months to ensure that salespeople continue to use it and don’t fall back into old habits.