NASA’s January 8, 2022 announcement…
James Webb Space Telescope completes epic deployment sequence….
It’s done. The biggest astronomical mirror ever sent into space is assembled and ready for focusing to enable humankind to capture images from the beginning of the universe. It has taken 30 years and thousands of people across America, Europe, and Canada to design, build, and deploy the James Webb Space Telescope.
So, what on earth (excuse the pun) I hear you say, has this got to do with me achieving my sales objectives in 2022?
Well, it is this… rarely anything great is ever achieved or won without a focused, disciplined, and passionate team all pulling in the same direction and all committed to winning.
And whether you lead a team of two or three, or a team with much higher numbers, winning high-value, complex sales opportunities is also rarely a solo sport.
I am often asked when coaching sales teams and sales leaders, “What do you believe to be the most important factors in being consistently successful in sales?”
The answer is always the same:
- First and foremost, having the privilege to work with and lead great teams.
- Second, leveraging evidence-based sales tools to help differentiate competitively and keep us on track.
- Third, and most important, relentless passion to win – every day.
Fact: Teams win deals.
Which is why, over the last year or so, I have been quite shocked at just how many times I come across clients chasing complex, high-value deals, often across multiple geographies, where the concept of aligning and leveraging a talented winning team with the client is…well…missing.
This, in my opinion, is the single best way to ensure we lose a deal.
Another fact in selling is our relationships with our clients are the only lasting differentiator we can rely on to succeed.
Your team, and the relationships you help to develop between key members of your team and their counterparts at the client (technical, finance, legal, HR, etc.), represent a fantastic opportunity to build multi-layered levels of trust, confidence, and support with your client. This differentiates you and your firm from your competitors.
Typically, early in any newly qualified major sales pursuit, we will select our team. And as the salesperson / pursuit leader, it is absolutely our responsibility to know which colleagues will best align and connect with the decision makers and influencers in the client team.
Every strong relationship established by each core team member can and will differentiate us from our competition.
Please…do not just “let this happen.” This selection process requires leadership. It can take some time and refinement, but by putting in the effort to have “the right team” in play, it will pay massive dividends as the pursuit takes shape. So, own it!
Once we have our core team, the next really important task is for us, as a team, to decide on our “Win Theme” – a few words that best encapsulates and resonates with the key business objectives our client wishes to achieve by engaging the market.
Once agreed and tested with our client Partner Allies, it is vital every member of our team aligns in total support of our Win Theme throughout the pursuit.
When we have achieved these important initial steps and put in place regular (preferably daily) team alignment meetings where the core team meets to raise, discuss issues, and agree upon actions, we will become a cohesive, professional winning team. This enables us to work effectively and present a consistent image to the client. We will be committed to our client’s success and our own.
Now, fast forward a number of months…
As we approach the end of the pursuit, we have succeeded in making it almost to the finishing line. No more RFP submissions. Sales presentations and final pricing have been delivered. And typically, two suppliers are left standing. Does this sound familiar?
The client decision-making team now needs to sit down to decide who will be awarded the business. And all things being roughly equal, which they invariably are at this stage, guess what? It is highly likely their decision is not going to be made on price or a technical solution.
Rather, they are going to select and recommend the team they feel has worked hardest to understand and align to their business goals… the team they feel most confident and comfortable working with… and the team they feel will be there to best support them when things go wrong.
And…never under-estimate how, most often, they select the team they have grown to feel a natural engagement with.
Of course, when the competitors lose to us, and when their deal loss review is conducted, it will be another case of “we lost on price”…hmmm.
…And so, when should we expect to see the first images from James Webb? And the results of this amazing team? …Not until June 2022.
But, according to Lee Feinberg, who has led the team at NASA, “Webb has the potential to blow people away, even people who are used to the pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope…”
So, who in your team will emerge as shining stars in 2022?
As we accelerate into another new year, and as we qualify our “must win” sales pursuits for 2022 and select our teams, let’s focus on ensuring three things:
- We have “the right team” that can best align with our client’s team for each pursuit.
- Establish daily alignment team calls where issues can be raised and actions taken.
- Our team is laser focused on delivering a consistent image to the client.