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Habits of Hyper-Growth Sales # 9: Win. Or Leave Early.

(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn here)

All highly competitive salespeople hate to lose, but we can’t win every deal.

There are those where the rules were made against us, where a competitor is determined to win at any price, where even the most creative seller cannot compensate for an offering's deficiencies.

There is only one way to win every deal: leaving those you can’t win early.

This is even more important for Disruptors as they have a virtually infinite market potential but very limited resources: Wasting these on sales cycles we won’t win means we missed out others we could have. And as we are focused on selling flywheels this means we flattened our growth curve for years to come!

But what does it take to leave the wrong sales cycle early?

First of all, we need to ruthlessly scrutinize our chances to win from the first day. While salespeople need to be of an optimistic nature, they must be pessimists when assessing their chances to win.

We need to constantly check all the 9 buying decision influences (see picture). We will not win when we successfully check MOST of them, we can only be sure of winning if we can check ALL of them!

So here is what it takes to make good decisions on opportunity qualification:

We need to have choices. If we only work on one deal at a time, we don’t have choices. Successful salespeople manage portfolios of opportunities in different stages and can switch to others without losing momentum.

We need to get control over the buying process early and for this we must understand the decision making process, identify the most powerful participants and gain their support.

We must understand the customer’s culture and whether our own organization fits it.

We need to have our entire team supporting the deal. If there is only one member unsupportive we need to listen to them: they might see a blocker we don’t see yet.

We need to build a non-traditional value proposition unassailable for the competition.

We must identify the wrong deals: Those we can win but that will turn into a nightmare thereafter eating our capacity in post sales.

And, last but not least, we need to clearly understand our competitive environment. Who are we competing with? With whom on the customer side are they aligned with? Which partners do they work with? How determined are they to get the deal? How versatile are their selling skills?

Any question you can’t answer is a red flag. Don’t push resolving red flags to a later stage, clarify them now. And if they continue to exist: leave the sales cycle.

As a manager I always encouraged my team to think about leaving sales cycles early and regarded it a sign of strength. Losing a deal a seller could have known they were going to lose but didn’t have the courage to leave is a self-inflicted deficiency.

There is always hope for the doomed.

But you don’t want to build your sales career on hope.

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