We Made The Short List

How often have you heard the statement “We Made The Short List”?

What does it really mean? More often than not it is another way of saying we fell short.

This morning I was with a customer in Orlando. Their CEO pulled out the stops just prior to Thanksgiving to congratulate his team for what looks to be a record year as they head into December.

While the celebration was in place, I noticed a call on my phone from a number that I did not recognize. The caller left a voice mail. Within 30 minutes the same number appeared – this time I took the call.

The caller was the CEO of a small industrial company, located in the Midwest, that I had met a few months ago on a return flight from Dallas. After a short exchange, he cut to the chase and told me why he was calling.

We need help…

The CEO stated that he has a unique product offering, supported by a great staff. However, his challenge is that the sales team is winning less than 20% of the jobs that are quoted. This is down from the industry norm of 30-40%.

What is working?

With that piece of information in mind, I asked him what ‘is’ working for the sales team? He stated, that they are able to find new opportunities, and are even given the opportunity to compete through the quoting process. They present their offering around the customer’s expectations … and then the wheels fall off. They are told that they ‘made the short list’ but are not being chosen for the final evaluation phase.

What changes need to be made?

The next question is always predictable… “What changes do we need to make?” In the majority of the cases, a few minor adjustments need to be made. Based on the information shared, I made the following suggestions.

6 simple suggestions that will work for you:

  1. Did you fully understand their requirements and expectations in the beginning?
  2. Did these change during the buying cycle?
  3. Why are they willing to change?
  4. What are their specific challenges?
  5. Has the incumbent attempted, or been given the opportunity to ‘fix their own mistake’?
  6. Once you were able to define the above criteria, did you introduce anything new, too much new (front of the curve stuff)?

Next steps

After an hour on the phone going into great detail. My final question was “what will your next steps be? What is your plan going forward? By the statements made I was left with the impression that he is willing to make the above course corrections and so we agreed to speak in mid-January to see check his teams progress.

The big challenge with any sales opportunity is to avoid beating yourself by not qualifying thoroughly and identify their true needs on the front end of the buying cycle.

If this scenario sounds familiar, shoot me an email … I would be interested in listening to what you have to say.

To your sales success,

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