What IS the magic bullet or "secret sauce" that gets prospects to engage, respond, stay on the path you put them on, and ultimately buy from you? Is there something that's missing in your process?  Everyone looks for that thing they can do that will take their close rates to new levels. Does it exist? IS there a short-cut?

The good news is...there is a Magic Bullet. The bad news is....it isn't just one thing.

The "Magic Bullet" involves synchrony. ALL cylinders firing at the same time, ALL the time. It's activating critical thinking with engagement so you deliberately do and plan the right things at the right time that make a difference for prospects...then document, plan, and review what is next.  

Some of the really basic challenges companies have that cause major breakdowns during sales cycles are often on the front lines, including:

  1. Relying too much on actions of the prospect, i.e., "they didn't respond so they aren't interested"
  2. Poor documentation of prospect interactions and critical windows of engagement are missed.
  3. Not engaging when the prospect is "engagement ready" but waiting until they are "purchase ready." Example: "They don't have budget for 6 months, I'm not going to spend any time until they have a budget."
  4. No established relationship management best-practices, i.e., Bill does a great job engaging, Tom doesn't, Ann does, etc. Everyone is doing something different with results all over the board. Marketing invests thousands (or millions) of dollars to get prospects to talk to them, to be handed off to unmanaged processes on the front lines.
  5. Blind spots exist at executive levels in the prospect/client relationship management process.  Management has no idea the large deal at XYZ company hasn't heard from us in 90 days.

Honestly, this is a very small sample and the list goes on. But what is common is complete breakdowns of process with what happens with prospects. The search term for "B2B Sales Training" gets almost 4M hits. It is a HUGE topic, and the answers are being looked for constantly--but the answers aren't always what people want to hear.

Sometimes a quick fix is purchasing tools that were designed to enhance the relationship as the replacement for the relationship. The result is windows of influence are missed, the connection deteriorates, and the prospect loses interest....their score drops, no one calls, they buy from a competitor. Not to mention the gobs of irrelevant email they get that is now considered "nurturing."

On the other side of the spectrum of radio silence from a vendor, the other extreme is no one knows what is going on with an account and the prospect gets so much outreach they are completely annoyed. Example: We were in the process of acquiring an enterprise platform recently. I have received no less than 6 follow-up calls and additional emails from different people that had no idea we had already been talking to them. No one had shared information, the CRM didn't reflect anything (or no one looked,) and many cycles were wasted. Even last week we received a follow up call and we have already bought the product.....from them (no credit to the sales team.) But the point is, with that much effort being spent inefficiently, there is clearly much more in the bigger picture that's broken.

The Fix Can Start Here:

  • Replicate success on the front lines. Build a formal engagement process and relationship management best-practice, and document it. The more you enable your reps with best practices the better. Where to find them? There are people within your own team likely having great success, use them as resources as much as you can. Analyze your pipeline and identify those areas where relationships break down. It isn't that simple (for sake of length of this post) but it can be done very successfully.
  • Have documentation guidelines. It is not okay to refuse to use the CRM, but a lot of adoption issues are because a process doesn't exist and reps may think more is needed than really is, or they just don't know how to document. Often they haven't learned how to really put a CRM to work FOR them so they are closing more business. Highlighting the WIFM (What's In It For Me?) of using the CRM makes a huge difference.
  • Monitor Engagements. Companies often focus on what will close and minimize the ongoing dialog. But companies that track and stay on top of activity within large deals are the ones that are closing them. Many times there is no reward, interest, or incentive to engage with long term deals; many teams have the mindset of "we're interested when there is a budget." But the teams that are personally involved while deals progress are the ones that are first in line when the budget is in.
  • Reporting and Visibility. As you are transforming processes, keep track of them. Many Sales VP's have asked me how can they make sales training stick--the answer is monitoring and having visibility into what is going on. Laying down some best practices and hoping it makes a difference won't get you there. It takes time for new behaviors to become adopted as part of a team culture. The more involvement, the faster course corrections can be made to keep the progress moving.

The magic bullet isn't a short cut, and I have only touched on a small piece of it. But the point is there IS a way to tune the sales engine so it is a Ferrari, and the results are significant.  The teams that get that are measurably more successful and see a significantly higher conversion, close, and success rate at all stages.  

Share in the comments what you have done to help your organizations!