Sales Management

How to Manage the Sales Cycle for a Complex Sale

By March 15, 2009December 29th, 2015No Comments
I’ve been blogging about The Whale Hunters Process–kind of a refresher–and today we’re moving into the second stage known as Hunting.  It includes three phases–ride, capture, and sew.

The Hunting stage represents your core tactical means of persuading your prospect to become a customer.  I use the term “riding the whale” as a reference to the Inuit whale hunt–once the harpoon was sunk into the whale, the whale was in charge.  It was actively trying to rid itself of the harpoon, swimming as fast as it could, while the people in the boat were hanging on for dear life until the whale became too tired to fight.

Therefore speed became paramount–how can we get this whale back to shore before it kills us?

These are my tips for how to keep your sales process moving forward efficiently and to re-assert that you are in charge of this hunt:

  • clarify the steps in your sales process
  • disclose your process to the prospect and discover how your sales steps align with their purchase steps
  • revise your process if necessary to match up with the whale’s process (assuming they have a rational process)
  • together, assign a time line for each step to occur
  • manage the flow of the deal according to the time line for completing each step
  • whenever a step violates the time line, review the current status of that deal and make a choice:  improve your process step, improve your team’s delivery of sales content at that step, or learn why the whale is extending that step
  • if you don’t get good answers to the extension of the time line, send the whale back to Baja to hunt in another season

As you develop a sales process based on the time it takes to move from each step to the next in a business deal, you will find ways to accelerate, ways to improve, and ways to know when to discontinue this hunt.

If your prospect requires an RFP at this stage, you need to cycle into a variation of your sales process.

Do you have a step-by-step sales process?  Do you discuss it with your prospects?  If so, how does that work for you?