I Screwed Up
by Tim Healy
As a sales coach I have always been super focused on giving my clients a specific system on how to take a deal from 1st Point of Contact to Close! Why are sales systems so important? Because sales can be a dynamic, fast paced and tricky dance and if you don’t have a system it can be like roller skates on ice.
Having Proven Sales Systems
The right system helps keep the sales person on track – it helps keep the sales person in control so they aren’t left chasing unqualified deals. I have seen 1st hand what happens when someone tries to sell without a system and it resembles people assuming, mind reading, chasing their tails and selling scared. It is safe to say I am a huge proponent of having a system to follow.
How did I screw up? I DIDN’T FOLLOW MY OWN SYSTEM.
There I said it. I didn’t follow my own system. Having to write it down is painful. I am embarrassed to say it.
Why am I sharing? #1 – Hopefully my honesty is appealing and I get more readers for my blog and #2 – Because we learn more from our failures than our victories! As a coach, by sharing my story of failure it will solidify my belief why systems are so important.
Here is the story of my failure.
At this point in my business I enjoy many referrals. If you are in sales you know that the close rate of referrals is typically going to be higher than cold leads. So I received a lead for a financial planning firm from one of my best clients whom I have done business with since 2008.
I had two “Discovery Meetings” with the three partners of the firm. For those of you who don’t know, my “Discovery Meeting” is how I learn about a prospect. I sit down with them for an in depth conversation. I find out what is working and not working in their world when it comes to sales, how it is affecting them, which in turn allows me to figure out if and how I can help them.
Here is what I knew to qualify the deal: The three partners were the only decision makers. Their income over the last 3 years was declining as expenses were on the rise. (Sounds good so far.) The one partner who was the rainmaker was retiring and the other two had no real background in sales. They all agreed investing in sales training was a MUST.
They tried another competitor a year ago and didn’t have a good experience. Because my referral was so good they weren’t even looking at anyone else. They also agreed they wanted to start training within the month.
When it came time to finding out their decision making process they wanted two days to review it amongst themselves. Then I came back for the third meeting and presented the solution. They loved it and it cost less than they thought. I always try hard to close on the spot and I am comfortable pushing it to the point just before I am too pushy.
They asked a few questions based on some of the specifics of the training which was very common. So far there was no cause for alarm. Then one of the three partners asked how much time the entire engagement would take – which is also a very common question.
I heard a concern and ignored it!
Then the same prospect asked a 2nd time about how long the engagement would take. I thought for a minute that the time commitment could be an issue – but I told myself no. I didn’t listen to my gut. I broke the Cardinal Rule. I didn’t follow my own system. I didn’t ask the question when I was face to face when I could have addressed it.
Anyone who knows me knows I pride myself on being curious. If there is something the prospect is saying that you are unsure of or curious about then stop the conversation and ASK!!! I didn’t. Instead I got the email two days later saying the one partner couldn’t commit the time to training because of a commitment to recruit and train an Assistant so they weren’t going forward for now. An excuse – of course but now it was too late. I was unable to address her concern face to face.
How did I let this happen?
Was I lazy? Honestly I would say no. Was I too comfortable because everything else was going smoothly? Probably. I didn’t listen to my gut and our guts are usually right. I was curious and didn’t ask the question. I stopped short of digging deep and really qualifying. If I had addressed her concern then and there I honestly feel I would have had a good chance to win the deal.
I didn’t and I screwed up. So listen to my story and just remember – if any prospect or client says something (ANYTHING) you are curious about or unsure about – ASK!!!
To learn more about improving your own sales system: