Planning ahead for "No Surprises" with our new opportunities

Have the courage to ask: "Why might this investment not go ahead?" - Friday 25 August

Hello Subscriber,

All this week, we’ve looked at different ways to maintain momentum in our sales opportunities.

We’ll finish the week by putting on our “Project Manager” hats.

One of the most important jobs for a professional Project Manager is to ensure that there are “No Surprises” in their projects. How do they do this? They spend a lot of time imagining all of the many ways their projects might fail.

After they’ve identified all of the potential risks to their project, these risks are prioritised and “mitigation strategies” are developed.

What’s the connection to people in sales roles?

Well, it’s our job to be the project manager of the opportunities that we’re seeking to win. And there’s lots that we can learn from the world of professional project management.

Ideally, we will identify all of the risks to our opportunities. We will assign priorities to these identified risks. And we’ll develop mitigation strategies for the most likely risks.

Most Salespeople Are Optimists

One of the key characteristics of effective salespeople is that they have a positive outlook. This positive mindset is clearly an important and highly desirable aspect of how we work with our customers.

Our confidence is often infectious, enabling our customers to have the confidence they need about whether the proposed investments will deliver the outcomes they’re seeking.

But if we are an optimist by nature, it can feel pretty far outside of our comfort zone to ask customers about potential problems with a proposed investment.

“Why might this investment not go ahead?”

In our selling roles, the best way to avoid surprises is to spend enough time imagining all of the many ways our opportunities might not proceed. Just like the project managers we reviewed at the beginning of this email.

So here’s the one thing to practice today.

Leave enough time towards the end of your meeting with your customer to ask: “Why might this investment not go ahead?”

Just to be clear, I’m not recommending that you always ask this question in every one of your meetings with customers. And you might need to develop your own version of the question.

But wouldn’t it be better to be aware of potential challenges while you’re still in conversation? If you’ve asked the question while there is still sufficient time in the meeting to explore the implications of potential challenges to progress?

Here’s one area of practice to emphasise today

Have the courage to ask your customers: “Why might this investment not go ahead?”

Coaching Focus

  1. Spend some time in role-play with your sales coach or sales team leader asking “Why might this investment not go ahead?”. Put yourself on either side of the role play and see what develops as you experiment with different approaches and responses.

  2. Prepare for specific meetings with customers and prospects and known challenges.

If you have questions or comments, it would be great to hear from you. Just hit reply and send me an email.

Have a great day!

Founder & Leader

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