Securing "Quality At Bats” To Improve Win Rates & Margins
A common theme I hear from top sales executives is that we simply don’t get enough “quality at bats”. A phrase in baseball most often used to refer to a batter's performance.
When I dig into what they mean by this statement I usually hear the following:
- We're way too reactive (as opposed to proactive)
- We wait to respond to RFPs instead of helping customers define their requirements
- We lose on price because customers don’t understand the value we provide
These statements confirm a common underlying problem that many sales organizations are too passive—especially those who offer technical solutions. While this may be the case, it doesn’t mean these organization can’t develop the skills to secure more quality “at-bats”.
In working with clients, I've found that the reason sales organizations tend to be passive is because much of their sales training centers around the solutions they offer as opposed to the skills required to gain access to the right people, and discover their true needs. This is especially true when the solutions they offer are complex.
Without these skills, sales reps find themselves responding to customer requests without having had an opportunity to fully discover and develop the customer’s needs. As a result, they devote their time and energy to opportunities that are not qualified and may not align with the solutions they can provide.
In digging deeper into this problem, I’ve discovered that most sales professionals lack the skills and techniques to effectively prospect for new business and plan for sales calls. There is a level of sophistication required to engage prospects especially when there are multiple stakeholders and competing interests.
To address this problem, sales reps should take the time to:
1) Map the organization to determine who's involved and their level of influence
2) Develop access strategies to reach key stakeholders including leveraging referrals, developing internal coaches, and capitalizing on networking opportunities
3) Determine what is most important to the varied stakeholders (e.g., price, ease of use, reliability).
Given the challenges of securing qualified appointments, it is also essential to plan for the call. This includes conducting thorough account analysis—website, press releases, annual reports—and reviewing the stakeholders LinkedIn profiles to gain a sense of their background, experience, interests, and priorities.
Most importantly, sales reps need to develop a sense of purpose for the call based on the knowledge they have gained. There is nothing more frustrating, or unproductive, for a client than attending a meeting that lacks structure and purpose. It is essential that the sales rep shares with the customer why they are there and what they hope to accomplish.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.