The past three years have been heady times indeed for sellers. From a global pandemic to a robust rebound, and a return to spending skittishness, it’s been difficult to pinpoint exactly how the market is going to react to the transaction of commerce.
CEOs need a safe harbor because the marketplace represents a rolling sea of choppy tides. From my earliest days of selling, I’ve found calmer waters by sticking to the basics – a technique known as the four “Rs.”
I first learned about the 4 Rs from one of my sales managers. Genius in its simplicity, but often overlooked today, these Rs represent the four pillars that should exist if you are to successfully close a deal. They are the:
If you are a CEO who is struggling to get all of your sales pros rowing in the same direction, these basics are a good start – though it would be most effective to work with a fractional Chief Sales Officer to build and implement a plan around these Rs (more on that later).
What’s the key reason why having these four Rs can dramatically increase close rates? Think of them like Drano for a clogged sales pipeline. Without qualifying each prospect against the four “rights,” I’ve found that many businesses have the equivalent of sludge in their sales pipeline, blocking the entire works from a free-flowing tap to success.
Indeed, I have seen many salespeople not hit their sales targets because they don’t pay attention to the quality and number of opportunities in their pipeline. They don’t start with a plan of action built around these Rs, focusing instead on scheduling and executing as many New First Meetings as they can.
We get it – at the beginning of the month or the end of a quarter, you may feel the rush to get as many swings of the bat as possible. But the four Rs focus has to be constant – an absolute that you apply evenly – in order to ensure quality in the pipeline.
First, make sure you begin with the “Right Person.” This is a buyer who can afford your solution and either has -- or can get -- the authority and political capital. If you at least schedule and execute a new first meeting with this Right Person, your odds of hitting the other 3 Rs later in the buying process will dramatically increase.
Next, you’ve got to be certain that there’s alignment between your product or service and the company’s challenge that it would solve. Thirdly, is the price you’ve set aligned with what the customer or prospect believes the value is for the product or service? Finally, is it the right time for your target customer’s company for them to consume your offering?
If there’s one thing I note in common with salespeople who fail to hit their sales targets, it’s that they don’t qualify their prospects against each of these four Rs. These folks have deluded themselves into thinking that critical mass is enough: “If I have enough opportunities in my pipeline,” they’ll think, “at least a couple of these will close.”
But my experience has been that this overconfidence comes from the salesperson believing that the buying process will go faster than it does, or that they can cajole the client into believing it’s the right fit (when it’s not), or that the target can magically conjure buying authority (when they can’t).
Instead, by focusing on having enough quality New First Meetings – each meeting the four Rs -- to produce a pipeline size of 5 times the monthly or quarterly target, the salesperson will likely hit their target. This will likely account for opportunities that either push to the next fiscal period, are lost to a competitor, failed to achieve budget approval, or have an apathetic buyer.
Does your company need a pipeline cleanser, or, more importantly, a renewed focus on the sales process? I and my fellow fractional Chief Sales Officers at Chief Outsiders are happy to help. Please feel free to reach out.