While in more transactional selling models success is most often determined on a “sale or no-sale” basis, more complex selling processes involve more steps and, therefore, take more time to complete. These facts can also make it more difficult to determine the degree to which each sales call within these multi-faceted sales processes has, in fact, been successful.
With this in mind, author Neil Rackham, creator of SPIN selling, has identified two important measures of success for more complex selling situations. And like all metrics, it is important for us to be honest in assessing our success, or lack thereof, after each sales call!
The two outcomes are:
The simple difference between these two outcomes is defined by the level of commitment gained by the seller.
“Send me a quote…” – Success or Failure?
Any action that the buyer agrees to take which moves the seller closer to completing the sale is termed an advance and constitutes a successful outcome.
The outcome of a call that does not reach agreement on action that moves the sale forward is termed a continuation and considered unsuccessful. For example, a buyer’s request for a proposal or quote is not an advance unless the buyer also agrees to take some action – i.e., agreeing to meet or schedule a call so the seller can present the quote.
It’s crucial to set realistic call objectives that make advances possible, Rackham explains. His research also shows that the early introduction, qualifying and assessment stages are the most crucial in more intricate selling situations or processes. This is in contrast to the more old-school belief that closing is the most important step.
So, if your sales effort is of the “more involved” variety, it’s important to be diligent in the earlier steps of the process and to obtain the right commitment at the end of each sales call. As noted in previous posts, maintaining a key awareness with respect to logical or ideal next steps is a good way to help us “advance” the sales process rather than simply continue it.