Walking from my truck to my office not long ago a thought reentered my mind – whether figuratively or literally, to get from Point A to Point B you move one step at a time. For example, to get from where I am right now to the copy machine down the hall, I have to move back from my desk, stand, walk through my door, cross an open area, and walk straight down the hallway to the machine. I have to do it precisely in that order or I can�'t arrive at my destination. It's impossible to do it otherwise. It's impossible for me to exit through the door of my office without first moving back from my desk and standing; I can't walk down the hallway without first exiting through my office door and crossing an open area.
Closing a sales opportunity is the same thing.
For every sales opportunity, regardless of the market, a sale advances around a consistent process of purchasing and selling steps. Sure, every sales opportunity is a little different from another however, the overall process is always similar within your market – especially when you look at the major steps. For example, many of the clients I work with that sell services have common major sales steps such as Lead Generation, Account Development, Opportunity Identification, Solution Identification, Commitment, First Customer Experience, and Deployment. For each step there is common criteria used to determine if we've completed the current step and are ready to move forward with the opportunity. Different tactics are often used to accomplish each step however, the progression of steps rarely changes. Generally, the next step is fixed – a decision, recommendation, proposal, agreement, signature, etc. We know the time typically taken to complete each successive step and as such this becomes a great model to forecast revenue and measure probability of close.
Especially for those of you engaged in complex sales – Do you have each sales step mapped out clearly? Do you have a plan thought thru on what each progressive step is necessary to close the opportunity you're currently pursing? Do you know the time typically taken to accomplish each step?
If you can't envision the steps necessary to get from where you are to where you ultimately need to be, the chances of getting there are just that�…chances. Map the major steps of a typical sale in your market, measure the time taken to progress from each step to the next, stay focused on completing the step you're on�…the "chances" of successfully getting to where you need to be will become determined and you'll find yourself in greater control of your destiny.