Control freaks get a bum rap, IMHO. But, when working a sale through your pipeline, control freaks are known by another name – CLOSERS!
Guiding a prospect through a sales cycle, particularly a longer sales cycle, requires you to manage the sale though each step in a timely manner to close the business to meet plan. At each step, new opportunities and/or objections may surface which can elongate, sidetrack or even kill the sale.
This means you must control the information flow. From the prospect, you must get the information you need to qualify, construct your offer and assess the timeline of the sale. To the prospect you want to assure that they can see the value, ability of your solution to meet the need and key competitive differentiation factors. Controlling the next steps and timeline is critical, once you’ve got a solution in front of the prospect.
The flow of information from the client is controlled by the questions you ask. Most sellers are skilled at asking questions to uncover need (reveal pain). But many move on to pitch/close at that point, leaving other key information unknown. You must understand the prospect’s internal decision process, other players and the competitive landscape as well. All these could derail the sale.
Moving to the next step requires a CLOSE. Many think of closing as a one-time final action of a sales process. But, in reality, you must close at each step of your process to move to the next one. (Watch for my next post breaking down the anatomy of a close.)
Closing a deal is simply the last in a series of closes. Closes for a meeting, delivery of a proposal, a walkthrough all may be required to get the order. Failure to control and manage this process from step to step means elongated sales cycles, lower close ratios and lower commissions.
So, the next time you get locked in the “just checking in” voicemail loop, try to determine where it was that you lost control of the sale. Then, look at your pipeline and make sure you are in control of all the deals on it. And, don’t criticize the control freak when you cash that commission check.