RESOURCEFUL: Is armed with options to make the most of every sales situation

RESOURCEFUL: Is armed with options to make the most of every sales situation

“I give it a couple of months more and if I don’t crack anything, I am through” said Keshav

Mohan, VP Sales for Stellar Industrial Kitchenware Ltd, eyed his youngest and newest sales consultant with sympathy. And he’s the brightest too, thought Mohan.

Keshav was a Hospitality grad with top grades. In two years, he had become the sales star in his earlier company distributing kitchenware in the consumer market. In search of bigger game, Keshav had moved into Stellar Industrial Kitchenware Ltd. Stellar sold commercial kitchen equipment to star hotels and high end restaurants coming up in Indian metros and Tier II cities.

Mohan smiled, thinking back to his own early days. “Welcome to B2B sales, Keshav” he said “You can’t give up so fast”

“I know” Keshav responded “But I can’t take this daily frustration of sales visits that seem to produce nothing except more meetings with more people!”.

“Do you go into every sales visit, wanting to close deals?” asked Mohan.

“Aren’t you supposed to?” asked Keshav Mohan “Isn’t that the attitude of a sales champion? The sales school drilled it into our head ‘Always Be Closing’”

“With you totally mera Dost” said Mohan, “But closure needn’t be the sole aim of every sales visit. It can’t be. I want to show you an approach that can leave you exhilarated after every sales visit. It is a master class I had from my B2B gurus and I want to share it with you”.

An eager Keshav said “That would be awesome. I am all ears!”

“Imagine this scenario” said Mohan “You are leading a crack force of commandos in a jungle. The special operations you are on, needs you to cross a river 20 km away and reach the other side with your men by 9 am tomorrow morning. You have 2 decisions to make immediately - how to do this crossing and also what can be a Plan B. Your likely thought process would be on following lines, though details could be different.

You would think - What’s my main objective - “My men and I should reach the other side of the river by 9 A.M. tomorrow” What would I need to do to make this happen?

(1)Engineers must build a bridge on the river by sunset today. (2) Entire group must be ready before 6 A.M. tomorrow. (3) Advance party must cross the bridge by 7 A.M. and report back to me over satellite phones

(4) Rest of the group must begin their advance not later than 7.30 A.M. (5) Equipment (weapons, ammunition, logistic support etc.) to be taken across the bridge at 8 A.M. (6) Back up team to cross by 8.30 A.M.

(7) Engineers must begin to dismantle bridge as soon as everyone has crossed.

In case something unexpected happens, (i) At least half the men should have crossed with necessary equipment by 9 A. M. (ii) Begin crossing by 9 A.M latest (iii) Advance party to complete the recon by 9 A. M. to enable me to brief base camp

This scenario has 7 sequential events to plan the crossing. These serve as a check list to know one’s actual progress by checking it with desired or best possible outcomes. If there is a variation one can think of change in tactics, which are the 3 intermediate objectives to achieve”

“Sounds very interesting” said Keshav

“Yes it is. I will share a Sales Call/Visit Objectives Framework with you that applies this to sales situations” said Mohan

“That will be cool” said Keshav

“It pays to remember Keshav” said Mohan “ A snatch of the old world wisdom “Quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit”

Do you expect to close every time you are on a sales visit?

Nothing could be more stressful! Of course, a smart salesperson should always be closing. But not with every sales visit.

In institutional sales or B2B, for instance, you will have multiple stakeholders with varying degrees of interest and authority in the deal. Clearances may be required at different levels. In our story, Keshav is up against restaurants and upmarket hotels limping back to normalcy. So, buying will never happen with the speed that Keshav was used to in consumer kitchenware.

It will necessarily mean several visits, meetings and discussions before the deal reaches anywhere near closure. Quite often this is true with other types of sales as well

Resilient Sales Veterans are Resourceful

So how do resilient sales veterans like Mohan in our story handle this challenge? They become resourceful and arm themselves with options. They chunk their sales objectives into bigger and smaller goals, hoping to achieve a little bit of one or more of them in every call and meeting. At Mercuri they are called “Stage Goals” and “Retreat Aims”

A Framework to guarantee Incremental Progress in every Call/Visit

B2B sales professionals can use the Stage Goals and Retreat Aims Framework to make incremental progress in every sales call/visit, to count their successes and to emerge feeling like winners all the time!

Possible solution for the story situation – Keshav will stop feeling stymied and become more resourceful if he uses the Stage Goals and Retreat Aims (Anchor Practice)

Anchor Practice: Stage Goals and Retreat Aims Framework

(1) Set ‘Stage Goals’ to reach main aim of every sales visit

• Identify the sequential set of events to achieve your main aim. These are the stage goals for the main aim.

• Include acceptances needed from Customer in setting the stage goals

Stage goals are helpful because they are the small wins on the way to your big win. They serve as a checklist. They can help you know the progress you have made in each visit against the desired or expected milestones. Course corrections can be made through change of tactics. This way each visit becomes productive as it takes you that much closer to the desired outcome

(2) Establish ‘Retreat Aims’

Stage goals aside, it is also important to set at least 3 ‘retreat aims’ in the order of priority. Examples can be - Part order, trial order, approval, interest generation or re-tendering. These could be acceptable retreat aims if sale closure is not achieved. If the main objective of a sales visit doesn’t happen, you can still count the visit as productive, if you are able to achieve any of the retreat aims. So, retreat aims help you feel like a winner on every visit

Pause to reflect:   ” Veteran B2B sales professionals resourceful because arm themselves with options. They chunk their sales objectives into bigger and smaller goals, hoping to achieve a little bit of one or more of them in every call and meeting.

Action Question:  How can you apply the Stage Goals and Retreat Aims Framework to your next sale call or visit to leave you feeling resourceful?

Related Readings: Mercuri Insight Document on Do you have a clear aim for every sales visit?

Takeaway Quote:  “In everything the ends well defined are the secret of durable success” - Victor Cousins

About the series:   This is the 86th in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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