Defining objectives: The foundation of sound sales strategy (Part 4 of 5)

In order for salespeople to help their prospect sell internally, they must understand the sales environment. Therefore, in the last two posts of this series we've covered two key components that define environment: (1) where the prospect is in the purchase cycle and (2) who is on the prospect's buying team. With a full appreciation of these, you'll be better positioned to develop the most creative and effective sales strategy.

But before jumping right into forming a sales strategy for your prospect to execute, there's a critical step that must come first: defining objectives. All sales calls or presentations begin in the mind of the salesperson with a clear one sentence statement of purpose. A sales strategy without objectives is useless, so skipping this step – a common temptation for many – is a colossal error.

Before you initiate any sales process, regardless of whether you have direct access to the buying team, ask yourself: What's my purpose? By identifying one, it forces you to think about your environment, drawing upon the knowledge outlined in the previous two posts, and what you need to do to transfer your belief in your solution throughout the rest of the target organisation.

In general, there are two types of sales calls, and a salesperson's objective will differ greatly depending on which one they're entering.

  1. Transactional sales calls

    These are calls in which you expect a sale to take place at that time. They're going to be mostly simple sales that don't require a large investment of time or resources on the prospect's behalf.

  2. Developmental sales calls

    These are the sales calls we engage in most of the time as a part of the overall sales process, those for which you anticipate you'll need to put in a significant amount of effort, working with many people over a long period of time. They require that you take a multipronged approach and lead, coach and counsel the prospect throughout the entire purchasing process.

When you're faced with the challenge we're addressing in this series of helping your champion sell internally, you're clearly dealing with a more complex sale that requires multiple developmental sales calls. Because of that, you should begin the process by defining not just one objective with a simple endpoint, but a cascading series of objectives, starting with a broad, overarching one and becoming more and more focused on immediate goals.

These objectives can be broken into four levels. For each, we've provided a generic example of what the actual objective might be:

  1. Overall objective: What's your ideal end result?

    For example: Prospect organisation makes long-term commitment to your product or service.

  2. Intermediate objective: What will help you fulfill your overall objective?

    For example: Prospect trials your product or service by investing in one part of it.

  3. Short-range objective: What will help you fulfill your intermediate objective?

    For example: Your contact (within the prospect organisation) presents the case for trialing one part of the product or service to the buying team.

  4. Immediate objective: What will help you fulfill your short-range objective?

    For example: Your contact arranges a meeting with the buying team.

As you consider each of these levels of objectives, it's crucial that you couch them in regards to the actions that the prospect must take. Too many salespeople concentrate on inputs, thereby framing objectives around what action they're going to do. But the purpose of a sales call isn't your activities. Instead, it's about getting the prospect to take desired actions that lead to a result.

What's your purpose? Regardless of whether you're entering a transactional or developmental sales call, you'll need to devise an effective sales strategy and tactics. And what makes for good strategy development? We will cover this next time, in our last post of this series.

Posted: 4/11/2012 7:30:16 AM by Brett Morris | with 0 comments
Filed under: buying, development, internally, objectives, prospect, sell, team
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