Professional sales people solve business problems for their clients. That is the core of selling. In order to be successful, your product or solution has to enable your client’s desired business outcome. At the macro level, all companies have the same 3 core desired business outcomes. They want to:
By engaging your prospects in meaningful discussions about the company initiatives to achieve these business outcomes you will be able to determine if and how your solutions can get them to where they want to be.
The tough part is earning the right to engage in this discussion.
Top performing sales people earn this right by doing rigorous research on their targets / prospects prior to engagement.
Here’s a snapshot of the ITF Mini MBA that we do on a qualified prospect prior to first face to face meeting:
Numbers…the truth is ALWAYS in the numbers
Understand key financial statistics like annual revenue, profit or EBITDA (broken down by business line/product) and revenue trends in the last 3 years (are they growing or shrinking). Understand what is causing these trends.
Basic company statistics.
When were they founded, number of employees they have, number of locations, number of clients? This information is easy to find in the case of a publically traded company, but not easy for privately held company so you’ll have to get creative with your methods.
Most companies have 4-5 company-wide strategic priorities for the year. These usually address revenue objectives, product objectives like rolling out new products, operations or delivery objectives, and/or pure financial targets. The discussion becomes interesting when you ask (i) how do they plan to achieve these and (ii) how is the progress against each one year to date.
You want to know who makes up all the members of the executive team, as they relate to the group or division that you’re selling to.
Having some idea as to the size and scale of their competition is a helpful thing. Additionally, you want to understand how your client intends to compete and win in their marketplace (competitive differentiators).
Lastly, make a list of all their products and product lines. Take this one step further by doing a size up on go to market strategy. You need to know which products are sold to which customers, their values proposition and their method of selling i.e. direct, online etc.
The better we understand our prospects, the more likely we are to be able to connect our products and services to their desired business outcomes. Remember – good things happen for sales people when preparation meets opportunity.
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