Sales opportunities are every sales person’s focus. Without sales opportunities, there is no ecosystem for sales people. There’s a lesson to be learned from biology. This weekend, some undesirable intruders showed up in our garden: 2″ long, cigar-fat, ground-burrowing, cicada-killing wasps! If you live in an area invaded by cicadas, these are some highly-adapted insects to have around. Except our area of the country doesn’t have a cicada infestation. Zip. Nada.
No one bothered to tell the burrowing-wasps. They showed up, on time, according to plan. In fact, they literally are hard-wired via DNA to show up, on time, each year, waiting for their big payday: cicadas.
If you are homing in on driving sales opportunities for your territory, you’ll love these burrowing wasps. They are extremely territorial. They chase away all the other wasps looking to set up housekeeping in their territory. They will dive bomb the infiltrator until the out-of-territory wasp is ejected.
If you are fixated on impacting sales opportunities in your territory, you may be involved in a lot of busy work defending your turf. There’s the competition to contend with, as well as marauding members of your own sales team. Then there are infiltrating members of neighboring sales teams (who may just be part of your company as well!). When everyone’s chasing sales quotas and concerned about making their numbers, it seems like everyone wants to set up housekeeping in your sales territory.
I’d recommend getting your head out of the ground and taking a good look around. While you – and every other rep in your territory – are busy burrowing and competing and dive-bombing competitors, you are compromising your sales opportunities.
Your customers may view you all as undesirable intruders.
According to your own sales DNA, it’s time for you to furiously buzz the territory, chasing alleged sales opportunities. Your sales DNA is hard-wired on a quota-driven system. You show up, like clockwork. You get busier and busier burrowing around, following leads, making cold calls, chasing “sales opportunities.”
You show up like clockwork to drive sales opportunities whether they are there, or not. Because your sales DNA focuses on the sales quarter.
Your customers aren’t hard-wired the same way.
Your desire to align sales opportunities with your quarterly need-to-close may be out of sync with what’s on your customers’ minds. If your sales DNA isn’t harmonious with their business ecosystem, you compete with your own team members and competitors for the same limited customer accounts. You haven’t adapted.
Liberate yourself from your sales DNA. You are doing the same things, over and over again, every quarter, hoping for different results. Business is harder to develop. Sales cycles are longer. Sales opportunities are more elusive to identify.
You end up being perceived as an undesirable intruder in your customers’ gardens. You know how you get rid of garden pests, don’t you? Why run the risk of being perceived as a commodity sales person who is easily dismissed, considered toxic, and therefore expendable? Your customers aren’t going to sign contracts simply to appease you and make you go away and stop buzzing them. Your customers will exercise their rights for pest control. They will make it very uncomfortable for you to remain buzzing your sales territory, trying to exploit sales opportunities.
Driving successful sales opportunities starts with your ability to align your products, services, and platforms with your customers’ business development cycles. Once you make this shift from your sales cycle to theirs, you won’t be so busy buzzing away not only your competitors, but your potential customers, as well. Align your energy with your customers’ decision making ecosystem. You’ll be far more successful, not only surviving from quarter to quarter, but thriving from year to year.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, traverses the sales-engineering interface®, bringing entrepreneurial mojo to small and mid-sized businesses in the manufacturing and service sectors. She builds revenue-producing business strategies for technical startups. She provides you and your colleagues with an arsenal of collaboration tools and communication skills required for today’s globally competitive marketplace.