Much of what we do to produce sales results is difficult. We make it more difficult to get results when we fail use one of the greatest of all human attributes to find a way: our resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is one of key attributes necessary to creating and moving sales opportunities through your pipeline.
Exclusivity Causes Stalled Opportunities
If I had to identify the greatest reason that opportunities stall, it would be that the salesperson fails to ask for a commitment that advances the sale (some meaningful and value-creating commitment that the client agrees to take).
Coming in at a strong number two is a lack of resourcefulness. The lack of resourcefulness begins with believing there is one way or one right answer that excludes any other possibilities. You can be too focused on some activity.
For example, you need to meet with the high level contact within your dream client company. She is out of the country for three weeks on business, and her inability to meet means that you are going to have to wait to get the information you need to prepare a presentation.
If your focus is on the meeting, your sales opportunity is going to sit dormant for three weeks, at minimum. If instead you focus on your real outcome (getting the information you need), lots of opportunities present themselves.
You could call your high level contact and ask whom else you can meet with in her absence. There are likely other people that would have the answers or that could find them.
You could schedule a web meeting or a conference call. If your contact is working and the project is important, she may very well take an hour out of her day to provide you with the answers you need.
You could ask to send a data request to her and her team, and ask if they could complete the request in her absence. You could arrange to follow up with additional questions.
If the deal is big enough or important enough, you could fly to meet your contact at her destination (provided it isn’t her family vacation).
There are no doubt other ways you could get the information you need to move your opportunity. You identify them by exercising your resourcefulness.
Focus on the Outcome
To exercise you resourcefulness, you have to move off the one method you believe is necessary. Instead focusing on the method, focus your attention on the outcome that you need.
It’s normally not the outcome that is unavailable to you. It’s almost always the method that’s unavailable. It’s the activity you want to take that isn’t work.
You want a meeting with the C-level executive at your dream client. He isn’t receptive, and you know you can help him. The real outcome is to find some way into the account and some way to demonstrate your ability to create value. If you are stuck on the idea of having to have a C-level executive, you have eliminated all the other ways to obtain a positive outcome that moves you closer to an opportunity.
Move from action to outcomes.
Your resourcefulness is the attribute that allows you to identify all of the ways you might obtain your real outcome. There are many right answers, and many ways to get from point A to point B. They may not all be your preferred method, and they may not all be the optimal choice, but choosing something that moves you forward is far better than doing nothing. You deal is stalled because you believe your deal is stalled and behave accordingly.
If you believe you have only one choice, you either haven’t moved from the method to the outcome or you haven’t identified alternatives.
If you believe you have a choice between two ideas, you still haven’t done enough to identify all of the alternatives that are available to you.
If you can’t come up with a long list of options, it’s because you are limiting yourself to what you feel comfortable with or to methods that you believe are necessary. The identification of options is brainstorming. You have to let go of what you know and just create ideas, no matter how crazy they might sound.
When you identify alternatives, you aren’t choosing the action; you are identifying all of the things that might be possible. This is resourcefulness in action.
Brainstorming without action is dreaming. Once you have determined your outcome and identified all your options, you have to choose and take action.
What are the actions that get you tied up enough that you forget that you really just need an outcome? Is there normally only one method to produce a certain outcome or result?
Can you remember a time when you couldn’t get what you needed by following some course of action and changed it up and succeeded? What caused you to decide to change your approach?
Is the outcome you are pursuing really the outcome that you need? Are there other outcomes that might work just as well?
What is your best method for brainstorming and generating possible course of action?