Actions toWin
More Quickly
Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 1
In our workshops i...
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The salesperson in the upper left hand corner is‘t...
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sales numbers. This team was going after $50,000,0...
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There is no standard path for actions. As we discu...
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see very high switching costs and risk in moving f...
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Here are three tips on...
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And finally, when do you get involved in helping y...
TheTAS Group helps progressive sales organizations increase their sales velocity resulting in higher win...
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White Paper: The PRIME Actions to Win More Quickly


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White Paper: The PRIME Actions to Win More Quickly

  1. 1. The‘PRIME’ Actions toWin More Quickly WHITE PAPER
  2. 2. Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 1 TACTICAL PLANNING –THE BENEFITS In our workshops inTheTAS Group, our participants engage in some very spirited discussions around the obstacles they see in the way of tactical planning. They mention the numerous fire drills they have to participate in, or conflicting directives from their managers and their customers and the difficulty of adhering to a plan in today’s volatile sales environment. In short, they have many obstacles and diversions that work against planning. However, when they’re asked to list the benefits of tactical planning they do a great job. Here are some of the items that they come up with. They tell us that tactical planning develops discipline and focus keeping their eye on the prize. They tell us that the simple act of planning reduces their stress, it helps them confront their resource requirements and it helps them uncover hidden problems. The‘PRIME’Actions toWin More Quickly INTRODUCTION A few weeks ago a colleague of ours was meeting with an executive in his largest account. They were talking about her vision and the obstacles in the way of her vision. She said something he thought was very interesting. Here’s what she said:“The truth is that I am up to my ears in people who think they’re the greatest strategists since JackWelch. Just once in a while, I wish I could find somebody who could just get something done.” ThisWhite Paper is about tactical implementation, the ability to get something done, by doing the right things to help us win more quickly and effectively. As with any of ourWhite Papers, there will be a big variance in the seniority and experience of the readership. Some of you will perhaps be in your first managerial role, looking to focus on what’s really important in the deal. Others may be more seasoned sales leaders, at Director, Managing Partner orVP level, tuning in to make sure you’re in step with the latest thinking and technologies. ThisWhite Paper aims to provide something for the complete range of requirements, since the ideas and recommendations have applicability right up the leadership hierarchy. However, if you want to dig deeper, or move wider, we urge you to get in touch with us individually. You can do this via email to: ThisWhite Paper will cover three main topics. First, an explanation of tactical planning placed in the context of the overall sales campaign. Second, an overview of P.R.I.M.E. actions, an integral part ofTheTAS Group’s Target Account Selling® (TAS®) methodology. Third, an outline of some best practices for managers to help them help their people execute tactical planning. Let’s start with the benefits of tactical planning. And perhaps most importantly they know that it dramatically reduces execution time in the sales campaign. Almost all time management experts agree that every hour spent on planning will result in a minimum of three hours taken out of execution. What manager or salesperson wouldn’t like to dramatically reduce their sales cycles? Finally, tactical planning almost invariably results in more successful outcomes. Almost nobody can seriously quarrel with the importance of tactical planning. The question is: how can we do it efficiently and effectively? Before we can speak specifically about tactical actions, we have to take a look at the overall context of the sales campaign. Moving prematurely into actions usually results in wasted, purposeless and incongruent activities. We have to begin at the beginning.
  3. 3. Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 2 The salesperson in the upper left hand corner is‘the buddy’. This salesperson is seen as having high positive intent, but low capability. This salesperson relies on personal relationships for the edge in transactional purchases. The salesperson in the lower left is seen by the client as being clueless in that they have low positive intent and low capability, the worst of both worlds. The salesperson in the lower right quadrant, seen by the customer as having high capability but low positive intent, is the‘mercenary’. The mercenary will win some opportunities but never be admitted into the client’s inner circle. Once we achieve a certain minimal level of capability and positive intent in the eyes of our customer, we move into the upper right quadrant. The credible supplier is essentially a very good vendor. The salesperson with this level of relationship will usually be invited to participate in numerous RFPs, but on a transactional basis. Moving up the diagonal line, the problem solver will be invited in by the client when they experience a problem. The highest level of relationship is theTrusted Adviser. This level of relationship is characterized by the highest possible combination of positive intent and capability. This level of relationship usually takes place at the executive level in the customer’s business units. The key concept here is that everything starts with your vision for the sales campaign and then cascades down in alignment with that vision. Once you set your vision for the campaign, then you can set your objective, your strategy will follow, and then finally you can put together the most efficient and effective P.R.I.M.E. actions possible. Let’s start with the concept of the vision. The father of modern management theory, Peter Drucker, once said that the single most important question that executives can ask themselves is: what do I want to be? The corollary to that question is: how do I want to be seen? The answer to these questions is the executive vision. The construction of a vision is the work of both executives and the salesperson who is mounting a sales campaign. When we think about the question, how we want to be seen?, it automatically compels us to think about levels of relationship. Ultimately, our customers will determine the level of relationship we achieve. Our customers use two different criteria in assigning that level of relationship, the first is their assessment of our positive intent and the second is their perception of our capabilities. A salesperson with low positive intent is focused entirely on making the sale as opposed to helping the client achieve their objectives. The cliché car salesperson, who says,“What will it take to get you to buy a car today?”demonstrates low intent. On the other hand, the salesperson with high positive intent is focused on helping the customer achieve their business and their personal agendas. These salespeople operate under the assumption that if they bring value to the client, the sale will follow naturally. The second attribute our clients use to evaluate us is our capability to bring value. They look at things like our products, our people, and our internal systems and processes configured in a high value solution. Desired State - Reality Current State - Reality Objective Strategy P.R.I.M.E. Actions TIME POSITIVEINTENT CAPABILITY Vendors Credible Suppliers Problem Solvers Trusted Advisors high highlow
  4. 4. Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 3 sales numbers. This team was going after $50,000,000 worth of business, with additional substantial future revenue in the future. At this point, we’ve set our vision, constructed an objective that is in alignment with that vision and now we’re ready to think about our strategy. In constructing our strategy we ask ourselves these questions, what will I leverage, what am I going to focus on? For example, you might have the latest in technology, a level of technological capabilities that none of your competition can come close to. In this instance your strategy might be frontal. Your strategy here would be to leverage that technology by convincing your client that there really is no decision - that the only rational choice is to take advantage of your overwhelming superiority. In another situation, you might feel that the client’s perceived solution is inadequate and doesn’t fully meet their needs. In this case, you might leverage your personal relationships to convince the client to go beyond their perceived solution and explore a far richer solution. The point of this graph is to encourage you to think about how you are seen by your clients, and how you want to be seen by them. In some instances it is perfectly appropriate to settle for a‘credible source’relationship. These are situations where you don’t want to over-invest in the relationship. On the other hand, an opportunity that presents high strategic value to both you and the client requires the highest possible relationship. Here is an example of a moderate level of relationship. In this vision statement, the salesperson in our workshop approached the opportunity transactionally and focused on what’s important to their transactional customer. “WewanttobeseenbyAmazon.comasaveryskilledvendor withtheabilitytostriptime,cost,andcomplexityoutofthe purchaseprocess.” In another workshop, a team of computer sales representatives came up with this vision statement: “WewanttobeseenbyBoeingaircraftasacritical successfactor,anindispensablepartoftheirtechnology infrastructure,andasatrustedadviser.” To support this vision, their company put fifty engineers on site for two years to win the business. The lesson here is that the more ambitious the vision, the higher the resources required. Once our vision is set, it’s relatively simple to set our objectives. Objectives answer the question, “Whatisitthat Iwanttoaccomplish?” Objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. The key attribute of a strong objective it is that it is completely unambiguous. As Yoda said, “Thereisnotry,youngLuke.” Either the objective is achieved or it is not. In the context of a sales campaign, our objectives usually have three components: what are we going to sell, when are we going to close the deal, and how much revenue will result from the sale. Again, our objective should be in alignment with our vision. Remember the computer sales people at Boeing? It would be incongruent to have this ambitious a vision statement cascade down to a limited objective with low or moderate Desired State - Reality Current State - Reality Objective Strategy P.R.I.M.E. Actions What are we? How are we seen? What do I want us to be? How do I want to be seen? What do I want to accomplish? What will I leverage? What will I focus on? What work will we do?
  5. 5. Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 4 There is no standard path for actions. As we discussed above, each buying process is unique. The organization doing the buying and its culture, the reason they are buying, and the way in which they buy are all different from one opportunity to the next. This means that there is no standard path that you can take to win a deal.The specific actions or combination of actions will usually be different. In addition, the nature of the buying process further complicates the situation. These are not perfectly predictable, linear processes – instead they are dynamic and sequential. During the process, the next step often depends upon the previous step. This means that the buying process will evolve over time, and there are lots of paths a buying process could take. To ensure that it evolves in a way that you win, you must decide on the specific actions to be executed. While there is no instruction manual to tell you what to do, there are sales models to help you assess the situation and analyze the options that you have before you – then make good decisions about what you’re going to do. This is what P.R.I.M.E. Actions is all about – it’s a tool that can help you figure out the work you will do to win key opportunities. The first thing that we have to do is to address proving our value both from a business and from a political perspective. Next we have to be sure to retrieve critical missing – because what you don’t know will hurt you. Next we must insulate against the competition with the intent of defeating their strategy. The final two items are minimizing our weaknesses and emphasizing our strengths. Again, we use this framework to make certain that our actions are perfectly aligned with our vision, objective, and strategy. Also, to make certain that our actions are both efficient and effective. P.R.I.M.E. ACTIONS We have now arrived at P.R.I.M.E. actions. And we are now ready to address the specific question: what work will we do? As Peter Drucker once said:“In the end, our grand strategies always degenerate into work.” Let’s take a look at this work from two perspectives, the buyer’s perspective and ours. In any given sales opportunity, there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands of different actions that you could execute. The problem is that unless you have unlimited time and resources you can only execute a few of these potential actions. So the real question for you is – how do you know which ones are the best actions to win the deal by executing an efficient and effective sales campaign? To answer this question, let’s look at actions from both the customer’s perspective and your perspective. The customer wants to execute actions that do two things – move the buying process along and create both business and personal value. From the customer’s perspective, their buying process – which is your sales opportunity – has a schedule. It is usually in the customer’s interest to move through the buying process as quickly as possible, but at the same time ensuring good decision-making, minimizing risk and maintaining some level of control. If our actions are in alignment with the customer’s interests, it’s more likely that the customer will help us accomplish these actions. Now let’s look at this from your perspective. In essence, you want the same thing as the customer – to move the buying process along efficiently and effectively and create value for your company – by winning the sale, or at minimum by withdrawing early from opportunities that are not worth winning. So the best actions are also the ones that create competitive advantage for you during the buying process. Early in that process this means getting better information sooner and shaping the decision criteria and process to favor your solution. Later in that process this means creating unique, credible and quantified business value – something that the customer can’t get from any of your competitors – and creating more political value for the people involved in or affected by the buying process. P R I M E rove your value etrieve missing information nsulate against competition inimize your weaknesses mphasize your strengths
  6. 6. Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 5 see very high switching costs and risk in moving from one supplier to another. They are focused on the technology and the reputation of the supplier. Their purchases tend to have significant business impacts with a much longer time horizon. Finally, these purchases usually are the responsibility of a business unit executive. Here is an example of an action item to prove value, and notice the accomplishment imbedded in the action. “I’mgoingtomeetwith(my)mentor,MarySmithtoreview, refine,andfinalizeourvalueproposition,getherhelponthe quantificationofoursolution’simpactontheirbusinessissues includingROICandtheeliminationofredundanttasksand processes. FinallyI’mgoingtosecureheragreementthatthe resultantvaluepropositionisrelevantandcredible.” The second of the P.R.I.M.E. actions is Retrieve missing information. As detailed before, what we don’t know will hurt us. During our workshops on managing sales opportunities, our participants are amazed when they discover the amount of missing information in their plans. For example, one of the concepts we teach is the Compelling Event. A Compelling Event is defined as an event that has occurred or will occur that forces the client to take action.The reason that this concept is so important is that in the absence of a Compelling Event, what frequently happens is that the opportunity drags on forever without the client pulling the trigger and buying anyone’s solution. Here is another example of a P.R.I.M.E. tactic, in this case an action demonstrating the second of the P.R.I.M.E. actions - Retrieving missing information. “(Iwill)meetwithmysupporterJohnBrownandretrieve missinginformationregardingthecustomer’smilestones inthebuyingprocess,JohnBrown’srankingofthedecision criteria,andthenamesandtitlesofallpersonnelwith substantialinfluenceonthebuyingprocess.” Before we start taking a look at the individual P.R.I.M.E. items, consider this critical point: the single most important attribute of an individual action item is that that action item must include an accomplishment. Holding a meeting is not a viable action item. Instead, the action item might go like this: “WewillholdameetingwithourmentoronAugust15and emergefromthismeetingwithhercommitmenttosupport oursalescampaign.” With this guardrail in place, let’s take a look now at the first P.R.I.M.E. item – proving our value. Transactional and strategic customers look at the world very, very differently. Transactional customers see very little switching cost in moving from one to supplier to another. Their purchases carry a relatively low level of investment risk. And these purchases tend to focus on product and are managed by lower level managers usually in a service unit position such as purchasing. In thinking about action items to prove your value to these people, your focus has to be on what is important to them. They see value in being able to finish routine purchases quickly, inexpensively, and easily. So your action items to prove your value would focus on demonstrating to them how fast cheap and easy it is to deal with you. On the other hand, customers who are involved in strategic purchases have an entirely different approach to value.They • Lower switching costs • Lower investments and risk • Product or person focused • Lower operational importance • Short time horizon • SU Managers Transactional Value • High switching costs • Higher investments and risk •Technology/supplier focused • Higher business importance • Long time horizon • Business Unit Executives Strategic Value
  7. 7. Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 6 HOW SALES MANAGERS CAN HELP Here are three tips on what sales managers can do to best help their teams develop effective actions. First they might help their salespeople learn to think before acting. Second, they might want to leverage their years of experience to help their sales people create and prioritize potential action items. Finally they may wish to focus on managing the process as opposed to trying to manage only the outcome. Let’s take a look at what we mean by these three items in a little more detail. There is a lot of pressure in any given sales opportunity to ACT NOW. The best salespeople have a very strong bias toward action. This is a real strength. But there’s another side to that coin. Many sales people don’t take the time to stop and think about the best actions to execute. They tend to act reactively rather than proactively, often on the basis of past patterns of action. So sales managers should balance that pressure with their own guidance that encourages sales people to objectively assess the sales situation, analyze their options, then decide on what to do and how to execute – all before actually DOING anything. It’s a new concept: ready, aim, fire.Your guidance can help the salesperson aim before firing. Brainstorming can be a great way to leverage your experience, and that of your team, to create effective actions. Here’s a proven process that helps make brainstorming sessions productive. First working with the salesperson, identify all the action ideas and options that you can think of. Then working together, consolidate the ideas into related categories. For example you may have a group of actions that all fit under“Retrieve missing information”, or another group of actions that fit under“Prove your value.” After grouping these items into the appropriate categories, test the actions by going back through your strategy, objectives and vision to see if these actions are congruent with the total campaign. Once you’ve identified the best actions, refine them further by defining who is accountable for their completion, define their sequence and timing and then execute them. Remember that action planning is not a one-time event.We will continue to renew the process with fresh and evolving actions until the opportunity is won. Next, we’ve given an example of an action item focused on Insulating against the competition, complete with an accomplishment. Remember that all action items are purposeful and they have an accomplishment embedded in them. “(Iwill)meetwithmycustomer’soperationalstaffand compilearecordofourcompetitors’misseddeadlines,budget overrunsduringtheirlastcompetitiveinstallation. Iwillshare thiswithmymentor.” None of our solutions are flawless, and all of us have weaknesses in our sales campaigns. Rather than just complain about them after the fact, minimizing our weaknesses is an action item category that we can take into account. Here is an example: “(Iwill)meetwithmyinternalsupportstafftodrafta contingencyplantoprecludeanypossibilityofaflawed implementationduringthepilot. Thisplanwillincludehaving personnelonstandbyandreservestock.” Mohammed Ali was the greatest. Did he wait for us to figure it out? Absolutely not! He told us, repeatedly. There’s a moral here for us. We can’t simply assume that our customers will appreciate all of our strengths and capabilities. But if we’re wise, we’ll make sure that we communicate our strengths to our clients in a clear and unambiguous way, just as Mohammed Ali did. For example, what if we’re convinced that our support team of technical staff represents our greatest differentiator in an opportunity? Here is an example of an action item aimed at emphasizing this strength: “(Iwill)meetwithmymentor,introducehertooursupport teamandsecureheragreementtothejointconstructionofa communicationprotocoldetailingrelationshipresponsibilities betweenhersupportstaffandours.”
  8. 8. Share this White Paper! Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved. 7 And finally, when do you get involved in helping your team with their opportunities? We tend to see two patterns among sales managers. Many get involved late in the process, often in response to end of quarter pressure, and come in to‘close the deal’. This is a frequent pattern of sales managers who fundamentally still see themselves as sales people.These managers are attempting to force the outcome, not manage the selling process by coaching the salesperson in the selection of effective action items. The most effective approach is to be more heavily involved early in the process. By getting involved early, you have the opportunity to coach for both short-term effectiveness and longer-term development. Close Needs Analysis Solution Proof Concept Negotiate Manager’s Involvement Sales Cycle Initial Qualification • Hero • Quarter pressure • Must fix it • Lion hunter • Leverage • Coach • Leader • Manager Command and Control approach Strategic Coaching approach CLOSING RECOMMENDATIONS First, before thinking about action items, place them in the context of the total campaign, considering actions only after you’ve nailed down your vision, your objective, and your strategy. Next, when it comes time to draft your action items, be certain that every action item contains an accomplishment within it. Finally use the P.R.I.M.E. formula make sure your tactics are comprehensive. Make certain to address all five of these areas: Proving your value, Retrieving missing information, Insulating against the competition, Minimizing your weaknesses, and Emphasizing your strengths. If you wish to find out more, please contact us at
  9. 9. ABOUTTHETAS GROUP TheTAS Group helps progressive sales organizations increase their sales velocity resulting in higher win rates, bigger deals, shorter sales cycles, and more qualified deals in the pipeline. Our unique value is deep methodology embedded within intelligent Dealmaker software, 100% native in Salesforce. Smart coaching, delivered just-in-time, improves sales performance and accelerates sales results.We have changed the paradigm of improving sales effectiveness from traditional sales training to delivering sales methodology and insights when and where the sales person is working a sales opportunity. For more information visit Copyright ©TheTAS Group. All rights reserved.This briefing is for customer use only and no usage rights are conveyed. Nothing herein may be reproduced in any form without written permission ofTheTAS Group.