Outer Limits: Optimum Management for Enterprise Sales

Unmanaged sales efforts for enterprise and similar complex sales prospects will rarely, if ever, succeed.

Here’s why:

Each enterprise prospect may include several important contacts who will each play a role in a purchase decision. A successful sales campaign for this type of prospect must include a serious qualification for each of these important contacts in three critically important areas. Specifically, the sales team that will win the prospect’s business will exhibit:

  • Deep knowledge of the prospect’s rationale for the purchase decision, which rationale has resulted from discussions and deliberations amongst the contacts.
  • Clear understanding of the role that each contact plays within the purchase decision and
  • Clear understanding how all of the contacts work together in day to day business operations for the business

To simply win the business without prior mastery of what the prospect has decided to purchase; why the prospect decided a purchase was required; who had to participate in the purchase decision; and how the participants in the decision work together within the enterprise would be pure luck.

Managing enterprise sales requires an understanding of what it takes to arrive at correct answers to each of our What?/Why?/Who?/How? questions as well as a thorough familiarity with long sales cycles that may encompass several years of careful development. Long sales cycles are typically required to ensure that, for example, the winning solution is as far from a commodity as possible and as close as possible to the unique offering of the winning sales team.

A successful sales manager for enterprise sales knows how to use a sales team to win this type of business. The sales team will often include a sales person with an address book to substantially enhance the prospect’s level of comfort with the sales process; one or more industry experts to architect the winning technical solution; and a managing sales person who can lead the team to winning the business from the prospect. There may be opportunities to repurpose the same personnel for multiple roles within the campaign; for example, an industry expert or a sales person with an address book may prove to have the skills to fulfill the role of the managing sales person. However, omitting any one of the three roles will result in a very difficult campaign that may result in a failure to win the business.

Further, our successful sales manager must select the right personnel for each role. Consider that a sales person with an address book must be a trusted confidant of at least one of the contacts within the prospect’s decisioning team. Simply knowing folks at a prospect cannot be interpreted as the equivalent of being regarded as a trusted confidant at the prospect. If the sales objective is promising enough, then the time should and must be spent to select just the right personnel for the sales team. It is very hard to cobble together a substitute. Better not to try.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved

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