Many times the sales rep is left alone to build his case, what products to sell, set the strategy to win, decide on how to communicate and how tough he should be in contract negotiations. And it’s often anticipated that these skills are mandatory for sales people to have. We all know there’s no such sales person available. The top ones may be close enough to make a success, but we all are a mix of congenital and trained skills. It’s like in every sport; the top performers are always those where optimal congenital skills are combined with the right sport, where these skills are utilized at the most. I other words, very seldom – Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls basket ball star or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, soccer player for Manchester United, are such rare examples.
Still, there are ways to reach ultimate sales skills without invest a fortune in sales training of mediocre or even pretty good sales reps, to win large complex deals.
The Sales War Room.
Shortly after the millenium shift, there was a huge dotcom death. Hyped IT companies valued billions of dollars just went bankrupt in a few months. I’d been successful in sales of IT for some years and was recently recruited by a large enterprise selling huge complex ERP systems to large companies. I was a young ambitious sales rep and it was a challenging business environment – nearly recession, but the most frightening thing was how I would be able to sell those complex systems?
But I managed. I was more successful than ever before. The secret was our Sales War Room.
When all other business units in our enterprise failed, my own unit won everything we decided to go for. The sales war room was a way of compress the very best experts available in one single place for one single day. The outcome was a sales case playbook for just that case: Exact what products or services to sell, how to sell, what to communicate to whom, how to get rid of competition, what to negotiate, what not to negotiate etc – simply all single details how to win the specific sales case.
A sales war room can surely be set up in many ways, but one of the keys for success is time. We gathered all the very best experts we could find in the entire business unit from all relevant areas. By doing that, the time was very limited. All best experts really have very limited time. So we decided pretty long time in advance what cases to go for and invited early – a month in advance was not unusual. We couldn’t book more than a day in total, just to keep it intense and efficient and the activities for the day were:
- Brief introduction of the sales case by the sales rep (me)
- Every expert then prepared a preliminary proposal or solution in his expert area
- All experts were gathered without participation from the sales rep, to create a common solution together
- Experts adjusted their proposals or solutions
- The draft solution was presented to the sales rep
- More adjustments were performed by the experts
- The final presentation of common solution and proposal was done, where it was secured the sales rep did know exactly how to act and behave towards the potential customer.
I feel most sales reps are too lonely doing these steps, with the impact that less deals are won. A rep always need help, but in more complex cases there are no supermen available.
Having a Sales War Room at hand, you will win all your sales cases anyhow.