Strategic Human Capital Insights

The Four Pillars of the Complex Selling Process

Looking up at columns at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC.How do you maximize every sales effort? How do you make sure that every sales activity – starting right now – has rigorous analysis, thought and planning behind it? The sales function is the growth engine that will make strategic initiatives a reality, or not! Business strategy is determined for the business year. You don’t have the luxury of waiting a month or quarter to start generating sales results. So, what can sales managers do to ensure that every salesperson hits the ground running with the right equipment and the right roadmap? That roadmap is the operating guide to the year ahead, and the basis of that operating guide is The Client Business Plan. Let's review the 4 pillars of the complex selling process.

The Four Pillars of the Complex Selling Process

Foundational Elements of the Client Business Plan 

Pillar One: The Selling Benchmark

The Value Opportunity

The wallet value assessment of each client determines the time, effort and urgency involved. Clients will fall into high, moderate and low-value categories. This becomes the mechanism to segment your client base, allowing sales management to determine if the correct activity is being put into the right client accounts. Sounds simple, right? It is amazing how many salespeople plan their time without this information. When all accounts are treated equally, then activity doesn’t have priority. Without priority, how can there be managed urgency? 

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Pillar Two: The Roadmap

Client Relationship Management Assessment - Build, Maintain and Erode

Every client should have an objective assessment of the current state of the sales relationship. This is based on an analysis of the following:

  • Value Opportunity
  • Time Invested
  • People Contacted
  • Results Achieved
  • Sales Targets Relative to the Value Opportunity  

Pillar Three: The Milestones

The Total Client Buying Center (TCBC)

In the complex selling process, the client is a collection of individuals within the buying organization who are either directly or indirectly involved in the buying decision-making process. Each person should have a relationship assessment, and based on that assessment, will have a build, maintain or erode designation. Based on that designation, robust planning activity can begin. 

Pillar Four: The Journey

Priorities, Urgency and Smart Activity

From the above assessments, salespeople will have an objective assessment of the current state of the overall business relationship.  It doesn’t matter if the current state is good, bad or indifferent. It is now simply the starting point for the journey with a plan that will allow salespeople to prioritize, measure and maximize every activity.

The Sales Challenge 

I have often heard both managers and salespeople complain that the business planning process takes too much time. Here’s the sales challenge:

  • With so many variables that can derail the complex sale, how can you afford not to develop a plan and then work to a plan?
  • How can you determine if all the time and effort expended by salespeople is just activity or is it smart, focused and optimized activity?  
  • Managers, how can you manage and measure activity vs. results without a robust plan as the benchmark?

Planning can take your organization to the next step with the right clients at the right time with the right resources. Revenue growth that happens by method rather than by chance is revenue growth that is scalable, predictable and forecastable. Now go forth and plan!

We invite you to download our complimentary complex selling eBook to learn how to accelerate the sales process and create a more sustainable business development process at your company.

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Topics: Human Asset Management

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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