Making the Maybes Make Sense
There’s a classic mantra that millions of salespeople have lived by for decades: Every “no” gets me closer to a “yes.” That part is natural–but what about the “maybes?” There is an argument that successful businesses are built upon the maybes, and more specifically, how much time and effort is spent on the right kind of “maybes.”
Despite the best intentions, businesses often misalign resources early on, particularly to clients who always buy, or high-profile clients who never purchase, instead of spending resources on the promising “maybes.”
- Lack of early identification of clients as being “always” “sometimes” or “never” likely to do business with your organization.
- Lack of coaching within account review.
- An unclear sales process or low relationship maturity within the client’s industry
There are several reasons for this misalignment:
- Lack of early identification of clients as being "always" "sometimes" or "never" likely to do business with your organization.
- Lack of coaching within account review.
- An unclear sales process or low relationship maturity within the client's industry
The Possibility of Maybe
Identifying earlier in the buying cycle and separating the “maybes” that make sense from the clients who will never buy increases an organization’s annual win ratio. Establishing best practices around customers who tend to always and never buy from you will enable your organization to preserve valuable resources, and statistics bear this out.
Trends show that approximately 20% of clients will always or never do business with you. Companies who identify the 20% in these categories free up the majority of their resources to focus on the more significant percentage (up to 60%) business needs to grow.
Organizations that have a clearly defined sales process will tend to identify the nearly 60% of clients that may do business faster. The more defined a sales process is, from random on the low-end to dynamic on the upper end, the more likely a business can identify early and begin to fill the sales funnel with the positive maybes
Organizations with a high customer relationship maturity in a strategic advisor or trusted partner stand to win upwards of 80% more often. A large funnel is a start, but then the strength of the customer relationship will increase the opportunity to convert
Resource Alignment for Growth
Alignment begins with executive management and sales managers on the same page. From there, an organization must increase structure around frequent account reviews focusing on which new accounts to target and which of its services align to solve a client’s challenges.
Successful alignment of resources leads to a litany of benefits to your sales team:
- Encourages sales leadership to identify early in cycle when the prospect or client demonstrates characteristics of a client who sometimes buys
- Empower managers and the front line to push back early on to gain commitments that identify the clients who never plan to buy from those who may have the right strategy
- Allows you to identify and pursue the opportunities that align and allocate resources accordingly
- Increase win ratios by pursuing and converting more maybes throughout the year
- Creates an atmosphere of sharing best practices across the organization Increase win ratio for additional new business in the "maybe" category across the board
If the executive team is aligned and encourages a culture of “maybe analytics” a sales team can experience actual measurable growth. The level of effort is relatively low, and the concept simple: rule out spending most of your resources with clients who will always or would never buy. I’ve seen the concept succeed within some of the largest organizations in the country: Management becomes dedicated in its focus on the realistic “maybes,” which permeates team meetings, training, and coaching cycles. In the end, it creates a culture of pursuing the possible, versus wasting away precious resources on the impossible.
Coaching is a crucial element to the “maybe equation,” as the quality of coaching can mean the difference between converting quality maybes from spending too much time on those that won’t convert.
The more effective the coaching, the better prepared and less-likely sales staff will be to misidentify the maybe/yes opportunities. Cadence should be regular, but that frequency depends on who the parties are.
For example, it should be much more frequent with a newer sales executive vs. a less regular cadence of account review among the management team. The quality and consistency of the touch points are critical. Developing individuals within your organization, like developing a defined process around clients who initially say “maybe” will lead to a greater return on investment (ROI) overall.