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.

 

Hurricane Sandy’s Reminder: Who’s Got Your Back?

Help in a Storm: Business Continuity Plan
In a storm, who can you rely on? Do your key partners have a Business Continuity Plan?

I first watched Hurricane Sandy develop days ago over the ocean, and remember the weather forecasters urging people to “prepare” for the worst storm in over a hundred years.

I thought about the people and places that I have visited on the East Coast, (like Nags Head, North Carolina, just this past summer), and hoped that they would be safe through the storm.

I had a hard time believing it would actually happen.

Now that Sandy has come and gone, however, my heart goes out to those that are affected the most by their loss of homes and loved ones.

Safety, Preparedness & Electronics Manufacturing

In fact I’ve thought a lot about safety and security over the last few weeks, as I’ve been located on my (thankfully) safe perch in the Midwest with only local travel plans in the near future.

Many of us will feel relatively minor effects from Sandy, through things like the delay of the newest cell phone or tablet.

But then there are the other ripple effects and supply chain interruptions that result from this kind of disaster, like a loved one not receiving a life-sustaining medication or treatment because equipment didn’t arrive on time.

Bhawnesh Mathur, our CEO with a background in supply chain design and management, published a recent post about Creation’s Business Continuity Plan and the need for solid supply chain strategies and partners to ensure—or at least minimize—the effects of disaster.

Preparedness is one of Creation’s Core Values, and with regard to our Business Continuity Plan, being prepared means that we exercise the plan regularly and unexpectedly to keep everything and everyone up to date in this constant state of change.

Who’s Got Your Back? The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan

It’s important for your business that you and your key partners have a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

How far to develop any plan depends on resources and time, but most companies’ BCPs focus first on people’s safety, and then on network and data recovery and backup.

What about businesses that generate income from manufacturing products?

For companies like Creation and our OEM customers, our future depends on being able to continue to “produce” in any situation.

After the safety of people, data and components, I suspect the last things most EMS companies think about are the buildings and equipment that actually produce their products. It’s definitely not cost-effective to have extra buildings and equipment sitting idle waiting for a disaster.

But what if you had a partner with a global footprint, with each location running at no more than 80% capacity, on shared business systems, and with similar equipment and certifications?

A partner who, by design, created this model to ensure their customers, and their customers’ customers, would feel minimal impact from a disastrous event?

Would that not be the premier Business Continuity Plan?

At Creation, that’s what our model and footprint offer. We have our customers’ backs.

Riding Out The Storms

With the news that a significant Nor’easter is now developing off the coast of the Carolinas, I have my fingers crossed. Let’s also hope we do not see a Tony, Valerie or William this year. But, if we do, I’m heading to my brother’s where there’s 3 months of supplies and generators on hand.

It’s good to have family, friends and business partners who are prepared and there for you to help ride out the storms of life…and have your back when you need it most.

Do you have a Business Continuity Plan? Do your supply chain partners?

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