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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Success Formula of Sales Relay Race

During visit to Nigeria in September 2010, got a chance to spend time with Kingshuk Dhar, General Manager of Simba Technology (nig) Ltd. The following article was written by him for young sales professional...

The entire sales cycle (mainly in an IT project selling) is similar to a relay race where you kick off the race (lead generation) and pass the baton to your fellow colleagues (requirement gathering-presentation-prototype demo-proposal-negotiation) till it reaches the finishing point (sales closure).

In this relay race lead generation is the first and the most important activity. Qualifying leads or understanding your prospect is an easy exercise if you follow certain rules and discipline. A bad lead can spoil the fun of this game and would end up wasting your time and marketing dollars. It is a process which you need to practice religiously till it comes naturally to you.

You qualify a suspect based on certain facts and information. Suspect background information gathering can start at your desk itself. Sources could be internet, call a friend or your favorite newspaper/journal. But the process must include an industry-specific questionnaire which should be well structured and relevant to your suspect.

You would get some information from these sources and for the rest you have to visit your suspect. IT managers could help you secure some base information like present IT set up, current set of service providers, bidders in race, etc. They are the technical buyers. While they may play a major role to eliminate you, they definitely do not have the authority to approve the buying decision.

You tend to discover amazing facts when you engage with the process owner viz. Accounts Manager, Materials Manager, Purchase Manager or Sales Manager. They represent the user community. Hence it is super critical that you show them how your products and/or services can add value to their role function and can make them Hero in the organization.

While you engage with the technical buyer and user buyer, you are likely to get the best result when you set up connect with the economic buyer i.e. the person who approves the buying decision. If you could get the economic buyer by your side you are likely to get the decision in your favor in majority of the engagements.

However while you engage at these three different levels i.e. economic buyer, user buyer and technical buyer, you must use different engagement frameworks to make the discussion relevant to the buyer profile.

If you follow these Golden rules, you would be an experienced lead qualifier after 100 calls and an expert after 250. By the time you hit 500 calls you transition as an authority in this subject and your colleagues start demanding your time to guide them through. Till then happy selling and have loads of fun!

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