Friday, April 16, 2010
Are you open to the truth? Ask the hard questions early
Are you asking hard enough questions?
If you’re in sales, this means not lying to yourself (and your manager). And that means knowing exactly how qualified your leads and opportunities are. If you don’t know whether the prospect has budget to spend, you need to ask. If you don’t yet know whether they can make a purchase decision by the end of the month or quarter, you’d better ask.
Because if you’re counting on that sale and the prospect has little to no urgency to get it done, it’s not going to happen. If you ask the hard question early, you at least have a clearer picture of the current truth, and can make decisions accordingly.
If your sales pipeline isn’t nearly big enough right now to meet your April or Q2 number, get that on the table as quickly as possible. Hiding that truth isn’t helping anybody – it’s not helping you, your manager, or your organization.
Knowing right now that your pipeline isn’t going to support your quota, or your organization’s sales goals, at least gives you a basis from which to start working. Or a basis from which the company can adjust its expectations. Knowing all of that now gives you options you won’t have later, if you’re open to the truth (good or bad) right now.
The answer to your hard question isn’t going to change with time. The implications of that answer, however, increase in impact, and your choices to make adjustments diminish. This applies to individual deals, sales pipelines, marketing strategies that aren’t working, business deals that aren’t going anywhere.
If you’re afraid of the reaction to potentially bad news (this deal won’t close, I’m at risk of not hitting quota), then you’re delivering the message wrong. Share the answer to that hard question early and directly, but immediately follow it with options. Make recommendations of what do to next, what to do differently, what to do instead that could still achieve the end-goal.
Your new options still may not work, but at least you’re reacting and executing early on an alternative, and giving yourself time to execute and achieve what matters most.
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