PRAGMATIC: Sizes up sales situations to invest intelligent effort

PRAGMATIC: Sizes up sales situations to invest intelligent effort

“Remember Aparna, all our Human Resource Management Software aren’t born equal” said Tarini, Head of Sales, Beanpod Systems Ltd

Relationship Manager Aparna twiddled a pencil, closed her organizer book and looked at the ceiling.

“I don’t get it” she said “I can’t see why it’s such a big deal”

“There’s no doubt that our company produces the most feature-rich, adaptable and scalable HRM software in the country. But there are multiple offering categories to meet varied requirements. You agree?” said Tarini

Aparna smiled. “I agree Tarini. But I still don’t see what that has to do with sales. To my mind, all sales are alike. The only difference between deals is in their size. They can be big, mid-sized or small”

“Ok” said Tarini “Consider this. Assume you’re working on two deals. First one is for a mid sized engineering consulting company that wants our HRM software which can automate their HR processes with a limited set of in-depth functionalities including Payroll & Attendance, Leave management, Travel & Reimbursements, Employee Database, Employee Self Service, Helpdesk, Reports & Analytics, Hiring & On boarding, Performance and Exit Management. They would like it customized to meet the demands of HR in consulting. They expect the product to conserve consultants’ time and offer a smooth interface”

“Well within our capabilities right?” said Aparna

“Of course” said Tarini “Wait till you hear the specs for the second Customer. The second deal involves a rapidly growing private sector bank that is increasing its footprint nationally. This bank presently has 150 plus branches with ambitions of adding another 400 to that number in the next 3 years. The bank has so far managed by outsourcing most of its HR processes. Now they want an in house application that does all the standard stuff and also provides for a Learning Management System, linking learning milestones to performance indicators. Given their headcount of 800, that’s likely to go up, they want the payroll part of our software to interface smoothly with their finance and accounting application. Now you tell me, would you adopt the same sales approach to both the deals?”

Aparna rolled the pencil on on the table, as she considered the idea. “Umm," she said "I’m not so sure now. I think the deal with the bank will need to build in more scalability and require convincing multiple groups. I would want a higher price for all that effort. The consulting company deal may involve a little extra customization but execution may be less difficult compared to the bank deal”

“That’s precisely the point I was trying to make" said Tarini, "The second deal would require a bigger effort because of complexity. Pragmatic sales professionals always look at sales complexity to assess the quantity and quality of sales effort required. Sizing up the sales situation like this also helps them to quote the right price and deliver superior value. I will send you a Sales Complexity Matrix (Anchor Practice below) that you can use to assess deals before jumping in"

“That should be cool” said Aparna

Pragmatic Sales Professionals See Complexity as a Deal Differentiator

Battle hardened sales professionals know that in the B2B space, all deals are not alike, even if they appear so. Between comparable deals also, some are more complex than others. Sizing up the sales situation is therefore an almost reflexive responsive of pragmatic sales people.

There are deals that don’t call for anything more than plugging an off the shelf solution. There are others that create business relationship involving pre-sales, sales and post-sales phases. These are ‘problem solving sales’. The distinguishing feature of ‘problem solving sales’ is complexity.

Spotting complexity early can promote sales resilience

The benefits of spotting this sales complexity early on are:

• ,Better stakeholder management – Early spotting of sales complexity, helps better preparedness in identification and recognition of stakeholders to be managed

• Possibility of pricing advantage – Complex deals touch the Customer’s business at multiple points. This should open up possibilities of higher pricing in relation to plain vanilla deals

• Can elevate Sales into Consulting – Design advice, participation in solution-evaluation and implementation partnering that go into a ‘problem solving sale’ can transform selling into consulting.

Besides understanding complexity also helps in arriving at a fair price quote.

Besides understanding complexity also helps in arriving at a fair price quote.

Possible solution for the story situation – Aparna will benefit by using the Sales Complexity Matrix to take a pragmatic view of the relative sales effort and pricing in potential deals to prioritize where to invest her efforts (Anchor Practice)

Anchor Practice: Sales Complexity Matrix


Pause to reflect:   ” With the role of order takers and explainers dwindling in sales, pragmatic, early identification of sales complexity could be a major factor in increasing opportunities for intelligent pricing, client stickiness, repeat orders, maintenance support and consulting and building resilience into your sales effort ”

Action Question:  Take a fresh look at your top 3 pipeline deals that you are currently working on. How can you use the Sales Complexity Matrix to assess the price/effort trade off in each?

Related Readings:  Mercuri Insight Document on Unique Demands on Salesperson on Problem Solving Sales

Takeaway Quote:  “No matter how good the team or how efficient the methodology, if we’re not solving the right problem, the project fails.” – Woody Williams

About the series:   This is the 87th 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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