Remember the glory days of the mid-90s? The joke was if you wanted to double sales you needed to get another fax machine. We all saw the impact of the technology slowdown..  Many great sales teams were shaken to the core and we discovered that it was critical to get back to basics as deals were stalling. Most sales teams had gotten away from focusing on the basics and found it to be a real adjustment. Some sales teams were never able to turn it around.

It could potentially turn into that time again. How will you act? Even when the economy is doing well, we have learned from past economic downturns that it is truly a time to get back to the basics, especially when you are qualifying the deals that you have in your pipeline. If you do not focus on the basics you may already have a deal with some slippage in your forecast. During the last down cycle, Sirius Decisions saw an additional 2.5 decision makers in a technology sale, and decision authority moved up two levels. We have not seen those authority levels drop back since.

All that said, it is critical for sales teams and management to inspect the deals with greater scrutiny and to find the answers that are unknown. Surprises are for birthday parties; I don’t want them in our forecast.

Here is a simple suggestion that you can implement into your assessments of your deals to discover your potentially “bad news” early so that you’re able to do something in the deals to avoid the slippage.

Ask yourself these questions and get the answers from the prospect’s words:

  1. What is the critical Business Issue or objective for the senior stakeholder (assuming this is the person with the signing authority)?  VMD
  2. What are the problems that are getting in the way of them achieving this Business Issue.?
  3. What are the unique problems we solve over the competition? (Differentiation)
  4. What is the quantifiable Business Value in resolving those problems? Value is critical! Is there enough Value in the solution to positively affect the Business Issue? (Business Value)
  5. Who are all of the key players, can we articulate the problems that they face individually, and articulate how we can solve their problems? (Power)
  6. Have the sales teams shown you the sequence of events (SOE) that move the prospect beyond the contract and to realizing the benefits of the investment? (Plan)

QP = VMD x V x Po x Pl

NET/NET – if any one of these answers are unknown – Zero (0) or the prospect can’t answer these questions without your sales team’s help, you DO NOT have a qualified deal and the deal should not be in your forecast. It should be in upside because you are exposed to potential slippage.  Fill in a blank with a 0 and the formula = 0

These simple questions can be added quickly to the key deals in your forecast. You will be surprised by the answers to these questions when you push to describe and demonstrate this from the prospect’s perspective.

This is the best time to be selling because the teams and organizations that can make the connections above will find themselves standing within a circle of folks as companies look for ways to expand profits.

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As Founder and CEO of Visualize, Scott spearheads the company’s overall strategic direction, planning and execution. Scott has over 25 years of experience in sales and sales leadership, building profitable companies.