Don’t Sell Where You Lose!


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“Well duuuhhh, Dave, thanks for that great insight!”

As obvious as it sounds, one of the fastest ways to improve organizational or individual performance is to stop trying to sell where you lose. Yet, as obvious as it sounds, too many of the behaviors I see are focused exactly on that–selling where we lose.

The problem is, too often we blindly chase after bad deals. Prospects ask for information, and the sales person is immediately forecasting it as a close. We blindly dial, making dozens of calls every day, desperately trying to find deals. If a prospect fogs a mirror, we immediately want to go to visit.

We waste too much time pursuing opportunities outside our sweet spots. Wishful thinking, believing “this time, we will defy the odds, we will be more persuasive, more customer focused, better able to deal with objections,” just doesn’t work. If our solutions aren’t a great fit. If we can’t consistently demonstrate and create superior value, then we are selling where we lose.

And we’re wasting our time and the customer’s time! We’re distracted from investing time in customers where we can win.

So how do we do this? How do we know we are selling where we lose? How do we stop this?

First, we need to look at our win rates. If we are focused on the right customers, we should have very high win rates — they should be at least 40%, probably higher. So if your win rates are lower than that, something’s wrong. It may be just bad selling, but when organizationally, systemically, we start to see win rates significantly lower than 40% it may be a clue that we are spending too much time selling where we lose.

Do the analysis, look at your Wins/Loss’s. Use this to help define you sweet spot and the things you do in your sales process that consistently cause you to win. Make sure you understand what you do to win, how you do it, who you do it with.

Make sure your marketing and product marketing people are involved in this. Leverage them to help understand and define your sweet spot. Make sure it is well defined and that everyone understands it.

Think of it as a “picture” of your ideal sales opportunity. This picture is a combination of the characteristics of the ideal prospect or customer and your sales process—the things you do in engaging the customer that cause you to win. Both are critical in “selling where you win.”

In your prospecting, leverage this “picture.” No one will match it 100%, but the better the match, the more likely you will be selling where you win. Your selling process tells you the things you have to do to align with your customer’s buying process and maximize your ability to win.

What if you don’t identify enough deals to make your number? This is where too many do the wrong thing–causing them to spend too much time selling where you lose. They start relaxing their standards–they cast a wider net, rather than focusing on finding the ideal customer–they add prospects far outside their sweet spot. Or they abandon their sales process, rather than doing the things they know they must do to win, they engage in a frenzy of unfocused activity.

In the end, they are just wasting time and getting into deeper trouble.

It takes understanding, analysis, and discipline to focus on selling where you win–not being distracted. It takes courage, when you don’t have enough deals in your pipeline–choosing to search for the right deals, rather than chasing any deal.

But if you want to improve your results, if you want to maximize the return on the time you invest in chasing deals, focus on selling where you win!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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