Put Time on Your Team

The sales cycles can be long and drawn out when selling to large enterprise organizations. Months, and even years, may pass in a significant opportunity with a large account: And as time adds up in pursuits, doubt, uncertainty, risks, and costs do as well. The commitment of finances, organizational energy, and resources – human and otherwise – can be daunting. But with of all of the difficulties the passing months bring, positives do present themselves for selling teams that are effective and organized. Every action you take is being evaluated by the buying organization – actions that give your potential client a keen view of your responsiveness, follow-up, and attention to detail. Leaving positive impressions in these areas can be huge. Because regardless of how formidable or sophisticated your competitors are in the pursuit, it is possible they might become just a bit forgetful as the seasons pass. They may take their eyes off the ball for just a moment. They may completely neglect a request or thoughtlessly issue a boilerplate response instead of devoting the deserving hours to a meaningful reply. At just the right time to leave just the wrong impression.

[wcm_restrict]Over the course of these long enterprise pursuits, you will be dealing with wide, diverse buyer networks. While the concept and strategy of team selling is widely known, there is less talk about the fact that prospect organizations buy in teams as well. You will be facing a buyer network likely consisting of representatives from purchasing, finance, legal, and other corporate functions relevant to the organization’s specific needs. This diversity in the buyer network is one of the key complexities in enterprise selling and it calls on the selling team to perform the due diligence required to understand the roles and impacts of each of the buyers. You must understand, for example, what level of authority purchasing or supply chain has and how actively involved in the decision the actual business users of the product or service will be. You must also understand what the real power of the legal and contracts team has in the process. These are complex and critical issues indeed, and while all of these buyers wear different functional hats, they are all subject matter experts. They are not only subject matter experts in the functions they represent, but also in the organization whose business you are actively seeking. And in this challenge of buyer network complexity also comes opportunity: The opportunity to show, over the long course of the pursuit, the depth and breadth of your organization; as well as the opportunity to map organizational “Ducks with Ducks”. Consider the power of aligning your accounting team with the prospect organization’s accountants. Or how about attorney-to-attorney contact? Have you ever noticed how disconnected conversations can be when a sales representative communicates with a buying organization’s lawyer? Or how smoothly conversations go when the attorneys connect voice-to-voice? Not only do these function-to-function connections provide smooth communication in the pursuit; they also give the buying organization a view into the depth and breadth of your organization. As time passes, just as your actions showcase your dependability and give your potential client a view of how you’ll conduct yourself as a partner, these functional connections show the capability and depth of your organization. They lay the groundwork for some rewarding functional relationship-building as well, increasing your likelihood of winning the deal and smoothing out any future road bumps after the business is won. The most important functional bond to create – no doubt – is the executive-to-executive.

Of course there will be pursuits in which certain levels of contact are difficult to establish, or in some cases, even forbidden. And by no means is it proposed that you put your significant investment at risk by playing loosely with the rules. Be smart. But never neglect any opportunity to enrich the budding business relationship by creating functional alignment. Doing so, very simply stated, increases your chances of winning.

So stay focused. Trusting that you have done your due diligence and that the deal is well worth pursuing, make sure your actions show that the deal is worth pursuing well. Be certain that you give the prospect organization a clear view as to what they can expect of you after you’ve won the business. Show them, in the pursuit, what they will ultimately see in you as their partner.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]

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About the Author

Brian W. SullivanBrian W. Sullivan is co-author, with David H. Mattson, of Sandler Enterprise Selling: Winning, Growing, and Retaining Major Accounts (McGraw-Hill / 2016). Brian is Vice President of Sandler Enterprise Selling at Sandler Training. David is CEO and President of Sandler Training.

Sandler Training dominates the global training market through an unparalleled network of more than 250 offices worldwide, with professional trainers providing more than 450,000 hours per year of instruction in 23 languages. For more information about Sandler Enterprise Selling please visit www.sandler.com/resources/sandler-books/sandler-enterprise-selling.

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