We attended last night's Red Sox Game. Unlike most games at Fenway Park, this contest was a pitcher's duel and the Red Sox held a fragile 1-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the top of the 9th inning. The Red Sox closer, Matt Barnes came in and quickly struck-out the first two batters and that brought up the best hitter in the major leagues, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Barnes quickly got ahead in the count and was only one strike away from ending the game when Guerrero absolutely crushed a rolling curve ball, blasting it into the light towers in left field to tie the game. The mood in the park immediately changed from celebratory to morbid. But the game wasn't over. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the first two hitters reached base for the Red Sox and then Raphael Devers smoked a long fly ball off the wall in left-center field to give the Red Sox a walk-off win. From morbid back to celebratory and beyond to euphoric. Such is the feeling of a walk-off win.
Regular readers know that right around this point in the article there should be a pivot to sales and I won't disappoint. The walk-off win in baseball, the buzzer beater in basketball and the field goal with no time on the clock in football are all terrific metaphors for certain types of wins in sales. Some deals are sure things from the get go and others stand no chance of going your way. However, some huge opportunities are truly nail-biters and could go either way. When those opportunities are finally decided and you win, they too are euphoric.
In today's article we'll use the walk-off win to show how a properly constructed sales process and scorecard will help you win the deals you are supposed to win, help you lose early on the deals you are guaranteed to lose, and give you a much better chance to win the nail biters that could go either way.
Coincidentally, today I will be working to improve a client's existing sales process. Their sales force evaluation results from Objective Management Group (OMG) pointed to three major reasons why they are losing business to their competition:
- They aren't creating urgency,
- They are failing to reach decision makers
- Both crucial milestones are nowhere to be seen in their existing formal sales process.
Most companies don't have a formal sales process, so in that regard they are very much ahead of the game but let me be clear. Having a sales process does not mean that the process is any good, was well thought-out, properly staged, or sequenced so that it builds upon itself. Having a process does not necessarily mean that the process is predictive or effective. With or without a process, it's very likely that your salespeople don't follow the process and your sales managers aren't coaching to the process. In those cases your process has been neutered! You must have an optimized sales process which is formalized, staged, milestone-centric, customer focused and properly sequenced. That sales process must also have within it a properly built and tested scorecard that will accurately predict wins and losses. And, sales leadership must be diligent about four things:
- The process and related pipeline must be fully integrated into the CRM application
- This isn't optional. Every kick-ass sales team has this in place.
- Every salesperson must follow it to the letter and keep it up-to-date in real time in CRM.
- Every sales manager must coach to the sales process and conduct opportunity reviews in the context of sales process and pipeline.
An optimized sales process will all but guarantee that your salespeople don't miss anything when it comes to winning all the opportunities that should be won. An optimized/integrated sales process will sound the alarm to all but guarantee that your resources are not wasted on an opportunity that you have little chance of winning. And finally, to experience the euphoria of a walk-off win, you must rely on that optimized sales process integrated into your CRM application - and we love Membrain for this - to help you win the nail biters because nothing feels as good as a walk-off win.