“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford
Do you play chess? I do and I am terrible at it. However it’s something I gravitate towards because it forces me think ahead. If you are only considering your next move, you miss out on the opportunities and traps that lie several moves ahead.
Recently I attended Sales Machine NYC and it was a great conference. There were a lot of practical tips shared in the keynotes, the panels and in many of the conversations I had with other sales professionals. It is a great opportunity to both network and think.
I left the conference with two key takeaways. The first is the question “Why not” from Jeffrey Gitomer. We often are not critical enough in our deals and with prospects. We hesitate to ask the tough questions, but asking “why not” can help uncover hidden roadblocks and landmines waiting in our deals. The second idea was the concept of change blindness from Fritts van Paasschen. Even before you have a deal, the inability to envision a different future path can prevent your prospects from even understanding the value of your solution. The biggest killer of deals is the safety of the status quo.
The great thing about sales is that it’s all about execution. The bad thing is that execution is the only thing most salespeople do. That is why many sales reps never achieve consistent results, they are always in reaction mode. If you have ever heard the phrase “speed kills”, it also applies to sales when you are running haphazardly from one deal and one prospect to the next.
If you are rushing to do prospecting, rushing through your discovery and rushing toward demos, stop immediately! Find a quiet place and ask yourself the following:
- Am I helping my prospects to think different and more broadly about their situation?
- Am I crafting messaging and framing solutions that positively provoke prospects to action?
- Am I spending my time on the most high-value, highest impact, revenue generating tasks?
- Am I working towards my goals and advancing in the value I can provide this world?
We do not spend enough time thinking strategically. Your long-term success in sales however demands that you start to become more strategic. Buyers are not looking for a talking brochure, they are seeking ideas to solve problems. The nature of the value sales reps provide to prospects has shifted and deals have become more complex to manage and close. If you are not thinking several steps ahead, you are putting your deals in serious risk.
Use the above chart and these four suggestions to help you reframe your actions and thinking from a transactional mindset to a strategic one. When you carve out time out of your day for strategic thinking, you will be amazed at the possibilities that open up.
Keep selling and put on your strategic thinking cap!