The world’s best chess players don’t play move-by-move chess. There’s no “10 moves ahead” aspect of their games. Chess, like life, is too organic and the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Instead, the world’s best study patterns and use their prodigious gifts to memorize the most successful responses to these patterns. The pattern in the image is called an ‘absolute pin.’
Salespeople can learn from this type of strategic preparation. While many salespeople say “every account is different” or “my market is unique” there are nonetheless patterns that connect the most successful sales and conversions.
Think about your very best sales and your very best conversions:
- Who and where was your point of entry in to the account? Did the most successful conversions start at a branch? A lunch? A sales seminar? And who was the person that consistently opened the door for you? A service technician? An administrator? If you can find a pattern regarding the point-of-entry then you can look for ways to duplicate similar situations and make similar connections.
- What was the problem that they wanted you to solve, the perspective they were looking for, the decision they needed help making? If it was price-based did those attempts yield the right results? If it was inventory-based did the relationship prove to be lasting? What unmet need did they share an interest in satisfying?
- What caused the process to accelerate and at what point in the sales cycle did this happen? Was it after the very first meeting or after a factory tour? Was it a growing level of dissatisfaction with a competitive supplier? Did the process accelerate because you gave a superior pitch? At some point the road blocks disappeared. Why?
- What caused the process to delay and at what point in the sales cycle did this happen? Was there competitive push back immediately following your first meeting or was it a slow burn? Did the decision maker get cold feet at some point and why?
- Who from your team made the greatest impact on winning the business? Did the Branch Manager’s involvement provide a level of trust that was needed? Did your Sales Manager’s participation improve the results? It’s not always a singular effort that generates big results. It’s a team effort that matters.
Do you see any patterns? If so, duplicate them! Moreover, plan your prospecting activities accordingly:
- Who from your side must your prospects absolutely meet?
- Artifacts. What processes, documents, samples, and testimonials create the greatest confidence while unsticking any friction points?
- Time. When you had delays in the conversion process what was going on? What was the bad recipe that you want to avoid? What recipe worked the best. Repeat that one.
Selling is a hard job. Some people have twenty years of experience to draw from while others seem to have one year of experience twenty times. Regardless of the experience there are patterns–situations that a smart professional has seen or experienced many times over. Like a brilliant chess player, your ability to recognize patterns and duplicate the successful responses will improve the likelihood of a win.