-by Shamus Brown
Are you going to win this deal?
With just less than 3 weeks left in 2001, I am sure that you are really busy closing out your year-end sales. This has been a tough year for many people. With the economy proving to us that business cycles still exist, spending has been cutback, many people have lost their jobs, and a lot of companies have simply gone out of business.
In a year like this, every sales opportunity you get is a precious one.
Tough times like these make for fierce competition. You and all of your competitors have been scrapping over a shrunken pie. This puts our buyers in a stronger position than before.
Even though this may be true, don't let this turn a difficult year into a horrible one. You always have to use clear and sound judgement on every sales opportunity that you work.
Today is December 12, 2001. Your December sales prospects should be telling you one thing right now - "You are going to win this deal". If they are telling you anything else, then you are in all likelihood going to lose. And if they aren't telling you this, you can bet they are saying this to one of your competitors.
People are political animals. And business to business selling is a political game. When 3 or 4 companies go after a sales opportunity, the business people involved in the buying decision line up a couple of ways. Sometimes, all of the business people favor one of the vendors early on. They then keep one or more of the other vendors in the game so that they have negotiating leverage against their preferred vendor.
The sales rep for the favored vendor will likely be told early on that he is winning. Why would the prospect do this? Because they like his offering and want his company to win. They believe it will best help their business, and more importantly that it will help their careers politically.
In more competitive situations, 2 or more of the vendors will have really close offerings. The business people evaluating the vendors will often split into 2 or 3 camps favoring opposing vendors. These are the most difficult sales to forecast. The prediction comes down to the art of determining which camp has the more political power.
In this situation you are likely being told where you are strong and where you are weak. If you have made good political contacts into the account, then you will also be told where your competition is strong and weak, and what the top decision-maker's preferences and tendencies are.
By the time we get to December 12, your buyers are making up their minds. The tough decisions are being made, and the vendor likely to win is being told so.
The rest of the vendors are being told things like the following...
Vague statements like the above are a huge red-flag. Don't tolerate vagueness from your prospects. Question such statements and get your prospects to be specific. Act incredulous "Wow that seems odd, you have been evaluating my company and ABC company for 4 months and you find us to be 'even' one week before making a decision? What is it that is really important to you in this decision?"
If you aren't being told that you are winning by now, then you are losing. The only thing left to do, is to find out why, and see if you can turn the deal around with this knowledge.
If you are polite and accepting of vague statements like the above you may find yourself looking for a new job in a few weeks.
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