In most of the sales cycle you can make mistakes and still get back in the game. Things like prospecting, or making that first contact, or following up after meeting the prospect: you can blow these badly and still get the sale.
And sales reps often obsess about being perfect for these non-fatal points. In reality, there are many ways to perform them successfully, and it’s just a matter of learning different techniques and figuring out which works best for you.
The 3 You Can’t Fail
However, there are three points in every sale where if you get it wrong, you’re gone, you’re history. These are the fatal three points. You must get these right the first time – or your toast. They are the:
- Sales proposal
- Sales presentation
- Negotiation to finalize terms
These are fatal points for sales reps to get right because customers are ready to be done with that phase of their buying process. Customers want to pull the trigger and move on to the next step.
The timing of when the do-or-die points occur varies with the sales cycle.
In simpler sales cycles (like consumer retail) these three points can occur at the same time. In larger, complex sales, they can spread out over months.
In either case, it makes sense for sales reps to get really good at the critical skills for three do-or-die points – then focus secondarily on the less fatal ones.
1. Sales Proposal
The first do-or-die moment comes when the sales proposal is submitted. This means sales reps have already done their best and it had better be in that proposal, or c’est la vie and it’s time to look to the next bid opportunity.
Because selling contract services all hinges on the sales proposal, I’ve written more than 30 articles here.
But to cut to the chase, here are a few that I feel are critical to getting very good at sales proposals fast.
* 3 Keys for Large Proposals that Win – tactics
* 60,000 to 1 – writing to customers POV
* Sales Proposals, Persuasion & the Sphinx – concepts
* 3-Point Checklist for Persuasive Proposals – checklist
* Walking Backwards: Timeline for Rebids – good for new sales too
2. Sales Presentation
The second do-or-die moment comes when the sales rep gets to present their proposal (which can be entirely separate from the submittal of their proposal).
Sales reps love to make presentations but most of them put customers to sleep, much less lead to a win.
I’ve written 13 articles to help make presentations better; more interactive, compelling and persuasive.
Here are the ones I feel are the first place to go:
* 12 Tips for Great Sales Presentations – requirements more than tips
* Presentations: 5 Need-to-Knows for Sales Auditions – pragmatic tips
* Presentations: Roles & Rehearsals – reality checklist
* Ditches & Pitches – concepts & details
* 23 Tips for Delivering Great Sales Presentations via Web Meetings – when webbing it
3. Negotiation to finalize terms
Since terms for pricing and conditions vary depending on what’s being sold, it makes sense to get good at the “negotiation” part.
Unfortunately, after all a sales rep’s good work up to this point, a simple slip of the lip, or overly confident hard position can loose it all at the 11th hour.
An excellent beginning source to learn from is Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (affiliate link).