Here’s an interesting question for sales professionals: What counts as a “big opportunity” in your world? Think of a specific prospect.
If the answer you just came up with involved a single decision maker and a sales cycle of less than, say, 12 weeks, congratulations. Your selling world is comparatively straightforward. But if there are multiple decision makers in play as part of a sophisticated buying team... with critical influencers connected to each of those decision makers... and if there is a significant financial and time investment required from your organization to even pursue the opportunity... then your sales cycle is more complex than that of other salespeople. And your daily challenges greatly differ from those faced by other sales professionals.
Certain complex, high-risk, high-reward sales opportunities are known as enterprise sales. They present issues that are far more elaborate than those found in traditional sales. Yes, these opportunities require you to apply all the tactics and strategies that are part of sales success built on smaller opportunities -- but they also demand a more sophisticated professional selling model. With the enterprise sale, there are important things that need to happen before you even make contact, and after you get the agreement to do business. And there are lots of twists and turns along the way that do not traditionally show up at all with smaller opportunities.
Sandler teaches sales professionals a six-stage model for pursuing and winning such opportunities -- a model that is based on and expands the classic Sandler Selling System. This model is worth studying, understanding, and implementing if you are tasked with generating revenue in the enterprise sales environment. Take a look:
Stage 1: Territory and Account Planning. In major accounts, there are many things that must happen before you reach out to a prospect or client account about a specific opportunity. The critical first step is planning.
Stage 2: Opportunity Identification. This stage provides the tools you need to prospect effectively, engage with targets, communicate with them to deliver valued, compelling insights, and set mutual expectations for the sales process.
Stage 3: Qualification. In this stage, you choose which deals to pursue based on whether it makes sense for both sides to proceed. Ongoing analysis helps you fortify both your offensive and defensive strategies… and make sound “go/no go” decisions as you proceed through the cycle.
Stage 4: Solution Development. Once you’ve earned the right to move ahead with the preparation of a proposal, that solution should uniquely qualify you to win the business by aligning directly to the account’s needs and pains.
Stage 5: Proposing and Advancement. In this stage, you identify and execute the various team activities involved in finalizing the proposal, ensuring that the voice of the customer rings out in the right documents to drive decisions and action.
Stage 6: Service Delivery. After all the time, money, and effort you invested to pursue this opportunity, it’s now time to focus on service excellence and effective delivery. Both Internal and external communication are critical during this phase.
According to our founder, David Sandler, “Your best prospects are your current customers.” This is particularly true in the world of enterprise selling. Each major account is an ecosystem unto itself.
Once you have invested the effort, energy, and organizational capital necessary to land any account, it's time to expand and deepen the relationship -- and start the cycle all over again.
To learn more about the tools and resources offered to enterprise sales professionals as part of Sandler Enterprise Selling, visit https://www.sandler.com/programs/enterpriseselling/.
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