Written by Steve Gielda, Principal – Ignite Selling

Throughout the past 20 years many books have been written on the topic of sales improvement. Some of those books were better than others. So, you may be asking yourself, “Why should I read Premeditated Selling?” “What can this book teach me that I haven’t already read or learned on my own?” Well the answer may be simple. “Why did you lose the last few major deals you were working on?” If your answer is PRICE, then this book is probably worth reading. Price is the number one answer as to why a sales rep lost a deal. However, when you peel back the onion you find out that there is more to the answer.

Let’s try peeling back the onion on a recent deal you just lost. Answer the following questions honestly:
• What was the customer decision process?
• What concerned you most about the decision process? What did you do about it?
• What aspects of the customer’s decision process were you able to leverage in your favor?
• What did you do to leverage your Champions throughout the decision process?
• What was said or done to make you believe your Champion was really YOUR Champion?
• Who were your Adversaries and what was your strategy to neutralize them?
• How did you leverage your Champions to win over your Adversaries?
• What were the customer’s decision criteria?
• Of the key decision makers, whose criteria mattered most?
• What was your customer’s perception of your ability to meet their criteria versus your competitor?

While working with the sales team of a Fortune 1000 product manufacturer we asked the question, “Why do sales reps lose deals.” You won’t be surprised that the number one response was PRICE. We wanted to validate that response. Maybe there was a chance that the pricing strategy of the product wasn’t correct. However it was unlikely the reason for the loss. We went back and spoke to the customer that elected to purchase the competitors product and asked them a few questions. Our questions focused on two areas: customer’s decision criteria and the key decision makers in the process. The first question we asked was, “Other than price, what other criteria was important in making your decision?” They told us the top five criteria they agreed upon were post-sale support, innovation, reliability, ease of use and safety. We then asked: “When comparing my client to the competitor you chose, which of these criteria did you feel the competition was better matched?” Their response surprised us all. They said reliability and ease of use were the two most important criteria, even over price. They said they couldn’t afford to make a large investment into a product that wasn’t going to be reliable. They went on to say that if the product wasn’t easy to use, then their staff would not use it and productivity would not improve. The next question I asked them was: “Other than you, who was instrumental in the decision process?” We were given three names. We explored a few other areas, but we had the information we needed.

When we took this feedback to the sales rep and their manager, they were surprised. Even more, they were disappointed. They had industry reports proving that their product was the most reliable product on the market. They had references that could speak to the ease of use. And most importantly, they found out that the information they received from their champion regarding who was involved in the final decision wasn’t correct. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario. Many sales reps don’t know the decision criteria, don’t know which criteria is most important to the customer, and they make too many assumptions, including that their Champion is always right.

If you don’t know the answers to half of the questions that were listed above, then we highly recommend you spend some time in this book.

Order your copy of Premeditated Selling: Tools for Developing the Right Strategy for Every Opportunity here.