The bell rings; it is the end of the month and that long awaited purchase order finally comes in at 4:59 p.m. We have worked every angle to win the big deal. The sales rep, engineer, executive team and vendors have all been out numerous times. Margin isn’t quite what we expected and we are going to have to do some things that we haven’t done before, but the size of it in top line revenue is impressive.
The interesting thing about winning the big deals is the potential negative impact it has on future business. Don’t get me wrong; we are all in it to win it, but there is another side to be aware of. What I have observed is that when a salesperson gets engaged in a big opportunity there is usually a huge amount of time that the salesperson is engaged in managing the sales process. When a salesperson is so engrossed in a big deal, what aren’t they doing?
What they aren’t doing is the other things that enable them to sell consistently. With all the focus on winning the deal, they expose themselves and the organization to a number of high risk gaps that will have a business impact if not managed correctly.
The first gap gets created when the salesperson stops prospecting due to lack of time. There is a need to balance time driving business to close and building pipeline. It doesn’t matter if there is one big opportunity a salesperson is focusing on or an onslaught of opportunities creating a similar problem. Leadership needs to be engaged in working with the salesperson to understand their pipeline and to make sure there is a balance of effort going into new opportunity development. Another reason this is so important is because the salesperson’s other clients need to be regularly serviced; leaving them unattended is never a good thing. The worst outcome is that all the effort to win the big deal comes down to a disappointing loss and no pipeline on top of it.
The second gap related to the big win dilemma is the euphoria that is created when the sales commission is paid and the vacation that usually takes place on the heels of the win. It is yet another timeout celebrating the win and at times micromanaging the project to assure success. This time is often followed by what I term as the “crash,” a taste of reality that the pipeline is dry and the need to begin aggressively prospecting sets in. This can be overwhelming and take months to fill the well. I have even seen times where it is so disruptive it is quarters before a full recovery. Not only does the sales rep suffer, but the company does as well.
The perfect storm is when you have a couple of key sellers all hit the big deals at the same time. My suggestion after going through this is we all need to double down on managing prospecting and pipelines more aggressively. We can’t be so distracted by the big wins that it allows us to veer from our best practices related to sales management. We need to build teams around sales to manage the big win proposal process and cut off quickly the engagement by sales after the purchase order.
Salespeople need to stay committed to a number of client appointments per week and maintaining the pipeline and prospecting goals. Leadership needs to develop a big win process to protect the business from the potential gaps that can be created. Large size opportunities should have an executive sponsor to evaluate the impact, measure the risk and keep the sales process flowing.
Please connect with me on LinkedIn and I would be happy to share more insight on this topic and others.