There’s a time to do the sales work that wins. And it’s not when most sales reps think it is. Let’s look at a typical sales cycle, which includes milestones for a:
Within the sales cycle is a window of opportunity where the real sales work (work that counts) is done. This is the “win window”.
Windows Do Close
As a window of time, the win window does close when a customer places a “cone of silence” over their important info.
The cone descends the moment a customer provides a proposal opportunity, RFP or non-RFP.
At that point, customers are no longer going to share their really critical info – info that could help sales reps win the bid. And don’t expect RFPs to tell you what you need to know to win, because they don’t! (see “Top 5 Sales Traps to Avoid“)
Info Leaks through Closed Windows
Some information leaks through after the cone descends, but it’s not the helpful kind.
In RFP bid processes, Procurement does answer questions but shares answers with all bidders. Nothing insightful or advantageous to be gained there.
When customers do accept proposals (non-RFPs) they act funny, as if they’re saying “Look, I’m letting you give me a proposal – I shouldn’t have to answer any more of your questions. Just figure it out!” So, they clam up too.
Catching the Win Window
Therefore, the best and only time to learn what will win is from the first customer contact up to the proposal opportunity. After that, the cone drops and for all winning purposes it’s informationally over.
So sales reps must work with customers early as it’s the only time customers will / can be induced to share their important knowledge.
Of course, this requires sales reps to have relationship building skills, a broad business knowledge, and a specific awareness of that customer’s business.
Have You Been Silenced by the Cone?
- How have you worked under the cone of silence?
- Do you have a strategy for the win window?
- What’s your best point for winning in the sales cycle?
Post your comments online. Love to hear your thoughts and experience.