By Tom Searcy
Chevy Chase was famous for saying that working with Christie Brinkley in National Lampoon’s Vacation was like holding an ice cream cone all day that you weren’t allowed to lick.
Lots of my clients have been stuck at “yes” in their sales processes lately. They get the deal, or so it would seem. They have a signed agreement and approval … yet they aren’t able to turn that into money. Sometimes, they get the first dollars of the deal, and then get stuck at a fraction of what they anticipated. Other times, they get a big piece of the business, but full revenue realization bogs down.
Let’s break the phases down for a closer look:
- Phase 1: Interest to first dollar. Often the hardest dollar to get is the first one. You have to overcome all of the inertia of your prospect — the sheer weight of change — to even get to the first small invoice.
- Phase 2: First dollar to 30 – 50 percent of opportunity. Once you have broken through the proof of concept phase of the sale, this is the period when you’re pushing for significance. Without significance — purchases greater than a few percentage points of the entire buy in this area within your client — the incumbent provider will always have the control of time and attention within the key buyers in the account.
- Phase 3: Getting to 100 percent. This is the final portion of the sale. There’s an old expression that says, “Never corner a snake … unless you intend to kill it.” Once you have 30 to 50 percent of the business, your competitor is going to feel deeply threatened and will try every trick in the book to keep the business. Discounts, promises, tears … whatever it takes to get the business back. That makes this the most dangerous phase. In Phase 1 you have nothing to lose; in Phase 3, your competitor has everything to lose.
Another big problem we often see is when companies doing the hunting often keep doing the same thing with the same people but expect different results … (see also: the definition of insanity). They send their salesperson in to the client and ask a version of, “So, when are we going to move forward with this program?” These companies lack a very critical understanding:
The people and business issues that got you in the door aren’t the same ones that will allow the business to grow.
The Buyer’s Table changes from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and from Phase 2 to Phase 3, as do the driving advantages that the company is seeking, as do the fears that keep them from moving forward. These changes are sometimes subtle, but they are significant enough to determine whether or not your company is going to be growing the account or not. A simple breakdown looks like this:
This illustration fits for a manufacturer, a logistics firm and a distributor. However, the core concept of analysis is accurate regardless of the industry. The bottom line is that moving from yes to money bogs down because the people, advantages and fears are different at each phase, so the approach has to change as well.
1. Break up your sales process to include the steps from a sales perspective for after you receive your “yes.” Include the people and mechanisms that you will be using to add new people and address the fears.
2. Secure at least one declared “executive sponsor” from your client, as identified in Phase 1, to stay engaged all the way through the process of full revenue realization. Many of the clients believe that their role is fulfilled once they have said “yes.” That is why you have the responsibility to explain to them the need for executive sponsorship, and tell them what it means.
3. Define the timeline for implementation and include “revenue realized” as one of the measures of success that you review with clients. Seriously. I know that sounds aggressive to some people, but remember — you sold them on a great set of advantages that would be most fully realized if they purchased at the maximum level. One of the ways they can know that they’re not receiving the maximum benefit is that they haven’t yet purchased the complete amount.
Getting the client to say “yes” is only one step in the process. The remainder of the process has to be just as clearly articulated, and executed, if you’re going to get all of the revenue realized that you expected.
What other ideas on “revenue realization” can you share for readers who are getting stuck after “yes”?
The founder and CEO of Hunt Big Sales, Tom Searcy is the foremost expert in large account selling and has made a career out of doing big deals and creating explosive growth. Read more about Tom here.
Originally published: Feb 20, 2012