Sales processes would be far more effective if customers would start entering their opportunities directly into a salesperson’s CRM system. Since that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, salespeople need to engage customers through focused conversations to identify and create that window of opportunity. It sounds simple, yet here is the problem: Customers have access to a wealth of information. And here is the consequence: A wealth of information creates poverty of attention. This means that the customer’s window of opportunity is opening and closing faster than ever before. As a general rule, the higher up you call on an organization, the less time you will get to engage your prospect. The mind of a C-level prospect moves quickly from one critical issue to another. If you are not able to offer information that is A) relevant, B) remarkable, and C) emotionally engaging, you won’t get even the chance of a second meeting.
But that’s just the beginning. Inside the window of opportunity resides the customer’s agenda. As new waves of information reach the customer, agendas may stall, accelerate, or move sideways. This is one more reason to be relevant, remarkable, and emotionally engaging on the first call.
The Salesperson’s leverage points for seizing an opportunity
Salespeople have more and more Sales 2.0 tools available to help them become relevant through real time access to mission critical information.
With such Sales 2.0 solutions as InsideView, Zoominfo, OneSource i-Sell, Workstreamer, FirstRain, Hoover's etc., salespeople can set triggers that instantly alert them of changes within an account. Armed with relevant information, salespeople will be able to engage their prospects in a productive business conversation.
It takes guts to be remarkable. For example, salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff was not afraid to hire actors and cast them in the role of protesters outside a Siebel user conference. They chanted that traditional software was obsolete. Benioff also hired a fake TV crew to interview people who witnessed the stunt. The result: Salesforce got a lot of free press, and Benioff became a remarkable CEO.
We can all learn from showmen like Benioff, yet it is critical to be authentic and become remarkable on your own terms. But it takes some guts to stand out from the crowd.
How about showing up with a “sizzling offer” contained in this bacon briefcase?
Maya Angelo once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” To create an emotionally significant experience with a prospect, salespeople need to become emotionally engaging. Steve Jobs, Apple’s greatest salesman, is a master of achieving emotional engagement with his audience when delivering presentations. Take a look at his amazing skill. His ability to emotionally engage his audience has helped create a company valued at $264 billion ($52 billion more than Microsoft and $98 billion more than Google).
Why do salespeople miss the window of opportunity?
Seth Godin wrote in his blog:
“Understand the urgency of the situation. Half-measures simply won't do. The only way to grow is to abandon your strategy of doing what you did yesterday, but better.”
Unfortunately, many salespeople are clinging to old and obsolete strategies, and they keep repeating what they did yesterday, or they repeat a plan of attack that worked last year. Why? Because they don’t want to change!
Ten years ago, the sci fi TV series Stargate SG-1 broadcast an episode entitled “Window of Opportunity” where team members Colonel O’Neill and Teal’c repeatedly relived the same six hours during a mission on a planet.
This episode was based on the idea that was introduced in the classic movie Groundhog Day. The rest of the Stargate team was unaware of the situation, and O’Neill and Teal’c were forced to find a solution without outside help.
This episode reminds me of selling scenarios where salespeople follow a Groundhog Day process loop, knowing that they are not getting ahead, repeating the same old routine, and desperately trying to break out of their circular pattern.
The future lies in embracing new processes and exploring new technologies. The future lies in creating greater operational efficiencies while creating a better customer experience and greater customer success.
Note for sales leaders: To get your salespeople out of futile Groundhog Day processes and technology time loops, attend the next Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. Check out the agenda now. www.sales20conf.com/collaboration