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Achieving Success in a Complex Sales Cycle

Sales Funnel Infographic. Vector illustration

New business has been referred to as the lifeblood of the company for good reason.  Without it, companies cease to exist.

So why is it that there’s often a negative stigma associated with the sales craft?

 

Pressure and Performance

Like in any other profession, in sales there are exceptional, average and bad performers.  Many of us take on the responsibility of keeping people at our company employed, and at the same time keeping our families fed.  With this responsibility comes tremendous pressure.

Sometimes this pressure makes people do desperate things.  This is where some poor sales performers compromise their integrity for “a sale”.

Great sales people, on the other hand, are constantly focused on how to help customers solve problems.  They draw on their integrity to help handle the pressure, and if their solution isn’t the best fit they do their best to point the customer in an alternate direction.

I have spent half of my career in customer-facing roles and the other half supporting people on the frontline.  I understand that my reputation as a sales person is all I have, and that if it were ever compromised – in the market or at my company, Creation Technologies – so is my ability to keep people employed and feed my family.

That’s all well and good, Kathy, you might be thinking. But having integrity and having fun doing what you love don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

You’re right.  Especially when finding the best solution for your customer takes time.

 

The Importance of Business Development in EMS

In the Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) industry, our sales cycle is an average 12-18 months from when an opportunity is identified, and can be much longer.  That’s a long time for a business development team to wait to know if we’ve met customer, company and personal metrics.

To address this dilemma, my team and I spent some time identifying some of the quantitative activities for each stage in the sales process that help us know we are on track.  Are we “winning every day”?

Our list helps us motivate ourselves and each other. It keeps us productive and focused on the right things, like:

  • Did I identify a new OEM I think Creation can help?
  • Did I think win-win through a difficult conversation?
  • Did I leverage my network to help someone else, or did someone else help me?
  • Did I make a new contact?
  • Did I learn something new about our market, company or potential customer?
  • Did I hear from an existing customer how happy they are that they chose Creation?

Thinking about the process in this way has helped us use the momentum we build early to endure through the long sales cycle, and ultimately feels fantastic when our customer selects us as their solution provider.

Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

In our business, I think every win is the result of a many small victories.

 

But what about that Sales Stigma??

I like to think of it this way. Because sales is so critical in every company, it makes sense that sales people are highly scrutinized.

As business development professionals, if we stay on track and help our teams celebrate the little things, those often-criticized poor performers will stop drawing so much attention away from the great performers.

I tip my hat to all those road warriors out there giving it their best for their teammates and families every day.  And for everyone supporting them, Thank You!

 

What are some of the small wins in your business that keep you motivated?  I guarantee you have probably already done something that has made a difference.  You just need to celebrate it.

 

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