As we meet with various sales leaders and salespeople, we are finding a common theme emerging.  Many salespeople are presenting their “solution” to the client far too early in the sales process. As we dig into the reasons for this behavior we have uncovered some consistent explanations as to why Premature Selling occurs:

  • An unclear sales process. Sales leadership and their salespeople have not mapped out a repeatable sales process that they both follow to create success. If there is not clarity on the next step in the process and what it means to the overall sale, then people will rush to a proposal or presentation because they don’t know what else to do. Documenting and following a detailed sales process that is specific to the organization and the market is essential to sales success. A well-considered Sales Process is not six boxes on a page…
  • Lack of preparation. Sales appointments are increasingly difficult to secure. When a prospect does agree to a meeting, make sure that he/she doesn’t regret spending the time. Make the allotted time as valuable as possible for THEM. Studies show that prospects who are actively looking for a solution are 50% into their buying process before they agree to see any salespeople. The assumption here is that a prospect is knowledgeable about the obvious costs and benefits of the solution; the sales person can bring value by offering additional insight and personalizing the solution for the client’s needs. Jumping to a solution without complete understanding of the client’s specific situation doesn’t bring the additional insight that most clients are looking to gain. How does your sales process promote industry-leading preparation?
  • Impatience on the part of sales leadership. With increased pressure to perform, sales leaders are pushing their sales people to present proposals far too early in the process. The irony of this behavior is that it actually further hinders sales results. A premature proposal is usually not well researched and not compelling to the client. How does your sales process help your team create great proposals that differentiate your solution for the client?
  • Commoditization. Clients are under just as much time pressure as salespeople. In an attempt to make their own life easier, they try to commoditize as many things as possible. “I know what I need, just send me a quote” and last minute RFPs and RFIs are becoming commonplace. One client I was speaking with had received 3 RFPs in the previous week and they were all due within a couple of days of each other. What is your policy on last minute RFP’s? Do you chase them or take another approach? What is your win rate on the ones that you have chased?

If you think that you have some of the symptoms of Premature Selling, take some time to analyze the potential causes in your organization. Our research will point you towards your Sales Process as the logical starting point to begin a correction of this behavior and an increase in sales success.

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November 14, 2012

Blair, this is a great post and one I'll share with my team.

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