In today’s sales environment, it takes more than just plotting to achieve success. It takes planning.
Planning involves developing new things that we want to make public — that we want our market to know about — so that customers and prospects will see us as the obvious people to buy them from when it comes times to do so.
There’s a very good reason to do this, even though it feels counterintuitive when compared to the way we have traditionally been taught to sell.
Back in the handshake days, sales deals were conducted under a veil of secrecy. Plotting these deals was very deliberately a behind-the-scenes strategy. We didn’t want to leave a trace or let competitors know what we were doing.
In today’s procurement-led environment, when the value of government contracts and the winner of those contracts are published online, there is no veil of secrecy anymore.
Selling to procurement might look like it’s all about paperwork, but actually it’s all about positioning.
In her excellent new book Agile Selling, Jill Konrath says “Buyers have changed: fundamentally, drastically and for good. (They) self-educate, leaving the seller totally out of the loop. When they finally decide to engage, they’re often 60- 70% of the way through their buying process.”
According to Konrath, a seller’s success today depends on “knowing more… Providing value…and meeting (buyers) where they’re at.”
In my experience, something that is particularly appealing to customers is to see that suppliers have things going on that they are not just waiting to be funded, or paid, for.
This shows that you are interested in something other than just taking the customer’s money. It creates an energy and excitement around what you are doing. Even if what you’re building is not specifically for that customer — maybe it’s for yourself, or for another customer, or for another industry that you play in —it creates something tangible that you can talk about and that customers can see.
There is nothing more soul destroying than being in the business of serving customers, but having to wait to be chosen.
Planning creates positioning, and breaks you out of the waiting game. It also helps you to take some of your power back.
Essentially, planning is just a way of getting all of your business-winning ideas out of your head and figuring out how you're going to achieve them. So what are you planning?