COVID. Needless to say, it’s a word that’s had significant impact on our lives for the last twenty months. The pain it has caused for those who have lost loved ones or experienced its impacts in other ways is immense. And the changes it has spawned in both our personal and professional lives are countless, causing us to adapt the way we live and the way we do business. And of course, the way we sell. Market needs, major account pains, product availability, competitive landscapes, and even the ways in which we communicate and interact with others. They’ve all changed. And in many cases, they’ll not be returning to whatever the old normal was. At the end of the day, it’s becoming harder and harder to know what we can count on. And more importantly, what our most important prospects and clients can count on.
From a selling standpoint, in this awkward time, we must focus on what we can actually control. That’s always been the case in major account sales, though, hasn’t it? The variables and moving parts in big deals have consistently challenged us. But what about now? With so much of what we could previously count on now being up in the air, we simply must know and fortify what we truly have confidence in. Truthfully, our ability to do so now is nothing short of a selling survival skill.
Even in normal times, pursuing business with major accounts brings unique challenges to selling teams. The sales cycles can be long as months pass, even years, as an enterprise pursuit turns the calendar pages. And as time goes by, doubt, uncertainty, and risk grow in selling organizations. So do the significant costs resulting from major pursuit investments. The financial impact is typically quite painful but so are the costs of time, energy, and people – all scarce resources. And the overall opportunity cost of credibly engaging in one of these complex deals can cause other organizational initiatives to be delayed or put on hold completely. Again, in the pre-COVID world, these issues were challenging enough. But now, with resources so scarce, the stakes are much higher.
All that said, winning big deals has never been more important. Landing a new major account with its long-term revenue and profit streams is just the type of cure needed for selling organizations starved for such victories over the last twenty months. So, what can we and our clients count on? Think about it. With all the difficulties and frustrations involved in these complicated deals, positives do exist for selling organizations that have their acts together. For in these lengthy pursuits come clear opportunities that increase your chances of winning. Opportunities that present themselves in the many touchpoints and contacts that occur with prospective accounts as time passes in their evaluation processes. For in every communication between you and your buyer, opportunity exists to prove your responsiveness, your follow-up, and your attention to detail. Opportunity to excel in what you have confidence in. Opportunity to prove yourself in what truly matter to clients. Opportunity to, very simply put, do what you say you’ll do. Because in every one of these transactions, you’ll be evaluated by your potential partner. And how you perform will give a clear picture as to what you’ll be like to deal with if you’re awarded the business. And you’ll not be evaluated in a vacuum. Not at all. The buying team has the luxury of evaluating you not only in terms of your dependability, important enough as that is. Your performance will be weighed against the performances of your competitors, who are all being asked to jump through the same hoops as you. And therein lies the opportunity for the effective selling organization. Because in every transaction, it’s possible that your competitors might become just a bit forgetful or complacent as the seasons pass. They might take their eyes off the ball for just a moment. Succumbing to post-COVID anxieties, maybe they’ll neglect a client request or thoughtlessly provide a boilerplate response instead of devoting the necessary hours to a meaningful reply. At just the right time to leave just the wrong impression.
It’s a challenging time for selling teams. But it’s also a very difficult time for your prospects and clients, who need help in pivoting to serve their clients in this new normal. Help them. Stay focused. Be confident and earn the right to clearly demonstrate to your clients that you know what truly matters. After performing your due diligence to determine that a deal is well worth pursuing, you must be sure you demonstrate that it’s worth pursuing well.