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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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In Sales, Are You And Your Clients On The Same Page?


I was reading an article in Women’s Health Magazine the other day, about choosing a “Stylist.” (aka- who is going to be in charge of making that mane of yours into a vision of perfection)  It talked about having honest conversations in your journey to make sure your stylist’s “vision” was the same as your own.  What is your stylist’s definition of bangs for example?  Are they wispy and few, or thick and straight across?  Men, when you want a little more “length” on the top and buzz around the sides and bottom, does the stylist still “shemp” you on top?  I’ve personally been frustrated more than once over my vision of what my haircut would be (because, obviously, I communicated it very specifically) vs. the too short, off color style that I just paid $160 bucks for.  HOW does this happen?  I, the paying customer, described in tedious detail what my “vision” was.   Problem being visions or definitions often leave room for interpretation, which is why all parties involved need to have honest conversations to make sure our visions are, in fact, aligned! This is not an easy task; you don’t want to make the guy or gal with the scissors feel like you don’t have faith in them!

The same goes for selling.  Sales people often take for granted that they are on the same page as their clients.  We try to have honest conversations regarding process, expectations, and results, yet when the time comes to sign a contract or you’re half way through the project, things can shift dramatically.  The result of your definition of an idea or word or concept was not aligned with your customer’s right from the beginning.  We all fall into the trap of assumption sometimes, so how do we do our best to avoid it?  In my business, I am learning that there are all kinds of different definitions for the same word.  This boggles my mind, yet it is a reality.  A few examples follow:

A marketing qualified lead- How does your customer define this “lead.”?  Is it someone who clicks on a link?  Someone who downloads content?  Someone whose badge gets scanned at a conference or show?  A contact who is involved in the day-to-day activity, but perhaps not in the actual decision making?  What does your specific customer define as an MQL?

A Sales qualified Lead:  Now this is likely to vary with every single customer you encounter.  Sometimes it depends on who your contact is: Marketing or Sales, analytical or creative, because they may have different “visions” as to what the definition of an SQL really is.  Is it someone/anyone who shows any interest in the product/service you are selling?  Is it a contact who works within one of their Top 10 accounts, even if it may not be the actual decision maker, but an influencer?  Or is it the person who has the power to sign the agreement, and ONLY that person?

Success:  This may seem a little hokey but every customer will define success differently.  What are the goals of your customer?  Will they see success as getting x amount of leads?  Or x dollars in sales pipeline?  Or is it all about cleansing data? Or is it about market intelligence?  Or perhaps, success is defined as making sure Marketing is delivering quality opportunities over quantity of opportunities.  Or maybe they want x number of quality meetings that lead to installations of their product.

It is vital for our sales teams to engage in honest, transparent conversations and ask defining questions (you need to define your own terms as well, but that is secondary to your customer’s definitions).  It’s about both visions, but the question needs to be “Are our “visions” the same?”  Do we define words, next steps, process, and results the same as our customers do?  The only way to truly know that is to ask hard questions, questions that may be painful for some salespeople to ask.  However, it is the only way to make sure we define success and the steps to achieve that success up front, so there are no misinterpretations along the way.  Has there been a time when a deal was difficult to close or execute because the vision you thought was aligned, was slightly off base?





Excellent article Maegan. You made us all realize the need to be specific, as opposed to being vague and general. Even when ordering a meal in a restaurant--if you want it a certain way, you better be prepared to give specific instructions to the waiter. I love reading articles that proffer important reminders like this one did; great job!
Posted @ Friday, October 05, 2023 12:10 PM by Robert Terson
Thanks for the kind words, Bob! It's funny how we often need to be reminded of the simple things- like asking for what you really want or need from the person you are interacting with. It's all about being specific!
Posted @ Tuesday, October 09, 2023 9:37 AM by Maegan
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