I have read most, if not all, of the relevant books on sales – Challenger Sales, Solution Sales, Socratic Selling and Miller Heiman, among others. My advice is to simplify. While it is extremely important to bring insight, you must be adept at problem solving.

I outlined in a previous blog to “follow your process,” or be willing to walk away. A bad deal is worse than losing because you will give away something you can’t afford to – margin, licenses, reputation…not to mention the knowledge that you will race to the bottom.

So here are the 4 steps and questions for each stage

The activity in each stage determines when you move to the next one.

1. Identification

The first stage of the pipeline where you take a qualified lead and put it in the funnel.

  1. Is it a client we want?
  2. Do they have a need?
  3. Are we qualified to do the work?

2. Discovery

The second stage of the pipeline where you determine the organizational structure, power, budget and requirements.

      1. What are the formal and informal power structure?
      2. What are the requirements or problems we are going to address?
      3. How are we going to win?

3. Confirmation

The third phase where we demo software or describe our understanding, assumptions, timeline, and cost.

    1. If software, set up demonstration, proto-typing and schedule technical reviews.
    2. Set up executive meetings and further develop your coach.
    3. Deliver a “pre-proposal” and modify it until it meets the client’s exact needs.

4. Negotiation

The fourth phase where we close.

    1. If “pre-proposal” goes well, deliver Statement of Work or license agreement.
    2. Seek to obtain verbal acceptance.
    3. Schedule kickoff and transition from sales to delivery.

Deals are won and lost in Discovery

Deals are won and lost in Discovery because the prospect opens the organization because they want a proposal. You can ask almost anything of them. If you don’t figure out the organizational structure and power, you will struggle later in a deal when they go dark.

SO, simplify and follow each step.  There is no shortcut!

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