Far too often, sales managers get involved too late in qualifying specific sales opportunities that their salespeople are pursuing. The manager discovers that the “sure-thing” deal is anything but a sure-thing.
The sales opportunities your salespeople are working on right now will comprise the lion’s share of your team’s sales revenue between now and the end of the year. The most successful sales managers recognize the importance of getting involved early in a sales process (like October), not only at the end of a sales process (like December).
The best sales managers know that the size of the sale is determined at the beginning of the buying cycle, not the end. That’s where customer needs are determined. So, now is the time for you to get involved by asking some probing questions of your salespeople, to qualify your team’s Q4 pipeline. Here are a couple of my favorite questions to ask salespeople beforethey deliver a demo to the customer:
- What are this prospect’s two biggest problems? Why are they experiencing these problems?
- What factors, or criteria, do they consider important?
- Have you met with a 2nd decision-maker yet? Are any decision-makers opposed to our solution?
- What specific actions has the customer taken, thus far, in their buying process?
For the purposes of sales forecasting, what matters is not what your salesperson is doing (their sales activities). What matters is what actions the customer is taking in their buying process.
Customers who are sincerely interested in your solution will take specific actions as they move through their decision-making process. For example, they may serve as a “sponsor’ for your salesperson, and help your rep to meet with a 2nd decision maker, they’ll schedule an hour for a demonstration. They’ll call your references. It is these actions by customers which truly qualify a sales opportunity, so find out from your sales rep what actions the prospect is taking.
A sales manager who waits to get involved too late, in the “close” step, will often recognize mistakes that the salesperson made weeks or months prior. Don’t let this happen to you! To increase your win rates and increase deal-size, ask more probing questions of your salespeople early in a sales cycle to ensure that your team finishes the year strong!