The Dalai Lama never promised me total consciousness on my deathbed. But in the process of managing sales teams in both private and public companies and making the number (usually) in over 100 quarters, I became enlightened.
I saw what it takes to win in business. I absorbed the very essence of commercial success and I came to understand a solution to a majority of the problems that vex emerging companies today.
And it’s only three words: Sell. More. Faster.
These words, when brought together, provide all the clarity and direction needed for any new venture to achieve escape velocity, create a new category, or even gain full-on market share leadership.
If you can sell more faster, your business troubles will melt faster than the arctic pack-ice. Fail, and your business will soon follow. In sales, the revenues that flow from coming in second, suck. If your business isn’t winning sales, it is losing everything.
The following three ideas help achieve a state of Sell. More. Faster. By doing this, your organization will find itself on the path to true commercial fulfillment.
1. Achieve Zen in your customer’s shoes (or sandals)
Use your ears at least twice as much as your mouth. If you approach a hot prospect in a selling situation and you do not fully understand their perspective — their pain, motivation, decision making process, or culture — your sales campaign runs a major risk of missing the mark. In the end, you want to hear them say: “We bought from you because your organization best understood what we need.” Once while working a particularly important deal, I came to appreciate that our prospect greatly valued their own, very unique corporate culture. I painted one of our systems the exact color of pink that was the company’s signature brand. When the CIO saw what we had done, she physically hugged the box, and the business was ours. It didn’t hurt that we had a great technology, but because we were not an incumbent vendor, we had to do something different. The buyer understood that if we would go to this length, we had truly understood them and would make a great technology partner. Achieve Zen by wearing your customer’s shoes.
2. Find and follow the path (to the money)
Qualification is the most powerful sales tool an individual can use to improve success rates and multiply commissions. By simply eliminating, as soon as possible, the number of goose-chases and pursuits of people with perceived power but no real intent to buy, a individual rep gains back valuable time to invest in other, qualified prospects, those with real pain and real money to spend alleviating it.
One of the hardest things, if not the hardest thing, for a rep to do is to say no. No to a deal, no to an interested prospect, no to anyone who is willing to engage, regardless of the potential fit.
Who you choose not to sell to is as important of a decision as who you choose to pursue.
The same holds true for entire companies. As a startup goes to market, it must decide where it will succeed first before going anywhere else. Only by focusing and becoming really great somewhere can a company go on being relevant everywhere.
3. Take the pebble from my hand (close)
Sales reps must be able to ask for the business. If not, you need to find reps that will. In building relationships of trust with buyers, sellers use closing as an ongoing part of the sales process, not as a single event. I’ve personally asked for the business in a number of ways: while seated next to someone on an airplane, or on the telephone, by fax, text, or even by hashtag #doUwant1or2? Asking for the order provides a window to view into the buyer’s mind, often providing information that helps you get the final order. It’s sometimes hard and often uncomfortable, but it’s also necessary in order to be able to snatch the purchase order from the buyer’s hands.
Sell. More. Faster. It’s the true pathway to survival as a business. It has to become a critical part of your company’s culture. That’s the only way to find your sales Zen.
Jim Dawson is a Venture Partner at Menlo. He provides both deal flow and sales guidance to the Menlo family of portfolio companies as a value-added service. During his career, Jim has created billions of dollars of market capitalization for investors. His expertise is in defining and executing successful sales strategies in the enterprise technology space. He has managed the closing of 103 quarters and still lives to speak of it.