From Deal Mediocrity to Mastery
By Alex Alleyne
Winning 100% of your opportunities in flight isn’t impossible. When I refer to Deal Excellence, we’re seeking to de-risk every aspect of a deal as much as feasibly possible. For any sales team, an improvement in win rates by even 10% can transform your business. For large enterprises, it can be the difference between multi-million dollar quarters or the opposite.
Our objective here is to strengthen our likelihood of a close whilst mitigating unexpected factors that have a sizeable impact on your deal. There are over 11 core components that go into Deal Excellence. This week, we’ll cover two in detail.
The missing ‘M’
The MEDDICC qualification criteria has long stood as the gold standard for how to qualify, inspect and operationalise a deal.
It has been at the helm for good reason: it provides a comprehensive approach to unpacking where you are in a deal and what is necessary in order to drive it towards a close.
With that said, MEDDICC is missing one key ingredient, which is fundamental to any deal of note:
When I think through the hundreds of deals I have closed throughout my career, I have never landed a transformative deal without pace and momentum. Every single day you are engaged with a customer and the deal hasn’t closed yet presents risk.
At any given moment, a key stakeholder could leave the business or the company could get blindsided. You should never be comfortable as long as you have an open sales cycle. You should always keep your eye on getting to the finish line in the fastest, most effective way that serves the interests of your customer and your company.
Momentum means having a truly engaged customer who shares a commitment to advancing the sales cycle.
So tactically, how do we build and test for momentum?
Deal momentum starts with having an identified Champion within the account. Deep diving Champion DNA deserves a send all by itself but for now, this article by People.ai is a solid starting point.
You can validate momentum by testing how much action your deal Champion takes to advance your sales cycle, while monitoringhow much frequency underpins that action.
For example, let’s say you believe you have a deal Champion and you need to work on an ROI business case together while he makes an introduction to his C-Suite.
Does he wait a week, respond to you apologizing for delays, and leave it another week before following up?
Or is he truly engaged, following up with you almost daily, keeping you updated, collaborating on the business case and making introductions?
The latter indicates you have pace and momentum; the former indicates the opposite. The more groundswell you can create within the account by harnessing multiple customer stakeholders around this sense of momentum, the better.
To actively create momentum, you need to solve a big enough problem within the account and/or add transformative value to the companies’ vision and mission.
The biggest reasons for stalled deals:
- Not being high and wide enough in the account. In other words, not being engaged with stakeholders that have meaningful influence and power.
- Not solving a big enough challenge or adding enough value. Meaning what you’re seeking to solve for is 10th on their priority list and you have not done a good enough job in heightening perceived value.
Everything related to momentum starts with driving great deal discovery during your first conversation, then identifying, building and testing a true deal Champion.
If you are able to deliver on both of these fronts, you are well on your way to driving deal momentum that has the potential to double your win rates.
Negotiate or order take
A large portion of our industry classifies themselves as sales professionals, when in reality, they are glorified order takers.
What differentiates the two?
Order takers discover what solution customers want and at what price, then give it to them.
True sales professionals seek to uncover where a customer wants to take their business, aligns that vision with a solution, quantifies the upside then presents a proposal that delivers.
All of this comes down to a battle between perceived value and leverage. In simple terms, the better job you’ve done at building perceived value in your customer’s mind, the more leverage you have when it comes time to negotiate.
If you’ve done a poor job in uncovering customer pain or aligning and quantifying outcomes, you’ve lowered your perceived value and undercut your leverage.
There are five major warning signs throughout a sales cycle that indicate your team may have done a poor job in building perceived value:
- Discounting – The customer wants a notable discount off of your solution.
- No momentum – The deal is constantly stalled and/or delayed.
- Lack of engagement – When the customer shows up, they are disengaged and uninterested.
- Outcome misalignment – The customer cannot repeat back to you what your solution solves and the difference it makes to their business.
- Lack of a champion – True customer champions want to represent solutions that move their company forward. If there is reluctance, it may be due to them not being convinced you can help them to drive positive change.
On the other hand, when your team has done a great job building perceived value, you will have engaged customers that drive deal momentum, can articulate how your solution unpacks challenges and will typically be less vocal about discounts.
On the subject of discounts…
Offering discounts is like putting a plaster (or bandaid, in the States) on a wound. It’s a quick fix to try and bridge the perceived value gap, but it’s a trap in the long term..
One of the biggest deals of my career was for $8.5M TCV. and we didn’t discount the deal by a single cent. We had invested a huge amount of time finding transformative problems and aligning key stakeholders around a unified vision of the companies’ future state. We were so in the weeds that the idea of a discount never even came up. Our solution transitioned from a ‘nice to have’ to a necessity.
Don’t allow your team to become an army of order takers. Develop them to become true sales professionals who can take their customers on a journey towards transformative outcomes.
Next Week: Delivering Effective 1:1’s
Having provided an overview of the POD Excellence™ framework, over the coming weeks, we’ll move into one of most common and critical ways that you interact with your team: the weekly sales meetings. ’ll startWe with leading best in class 1:1’s that encourage your team to outperform themselves each and every day.