Well, it’s official. July 4th is behind us, and we’re halfway through the sales year. It’s a good time to take stock, assess how you are performing against your goals and look for indications where areas of improvement need to be made.

Are you behind plan? Is your shortfall recoverable? And even if you’re currently ahead of plan, does the current business as usual guarantee to keep you there?

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these tips from sales expert Bob Apollo on how to begin and end with a strong second half of the year in sales.

Identify all the opportunities that are expected to close in the third quarter, and carefully double-check both the prospect’s motivation to act quickly, and the precise details of the decision-making process.

Even if the indicators are promising, make sure that the consequences of inaction are clear to your prospect. What would happen if they simply let the status quo prevail for a little longer? Who else would be affected? What would the consequences be for their personal and departmental Key Performance Indicators, and for the business as a whole?

In a nutshell, until you’ve sold the client on the need to solve the problem, and solve it now rather than later, your chances of successfully selling your solution are significantly compromised.

And even if all the signals from your sponsor are positive, are you absolutely convinced that they have the power and authority to mobilize their colleagues to agree to take action? Even if they say they understand the approval process, how can you test that they do?

The simple fact is that many apparently suitable decision makers don’t understand how their organizations go about making and approving buying decisions, or how those decisions get ‘up on the system’ so that an order can be placed. You need to check, and check again.

Carefully analyze your wins, losses and the opportunities that ended with a decision to do nothing. For your most significant wins, losses and no decisions, you need to identify the common factors and pay attention to the whole marketing and sales cycle—not just the final stages of the sales process.

Just as most sales wins are set up at the start of your engagement with the prospect, most losses and no decisions don’t come down to a failure in closing techniques, but can be blamed on poor decisions made early in the process.

What factors—often more obvious at the end of the process—should your salespeople have focused on at the start of the sales dialogue? What could you have done to identify a bad deal earlier on in the sales process?

This ability to identify and eliminate poorly qualified opportunities early is one of the defining differences between high- and low-performing salespeople. Deals get delayed for a variety of reasons. Some are unpredictable and/or unavoidable. But all too often, something the vendor does or does not do contributes to the delay. Where are the bottlenecks in your customer acquisition process, and what are you going to do to eliminate them?

Follow this checklist for your half-year analysis:

  • Review your perfect customer profile and make sure that you’re targeting the right organizations, sponsors and stakeholders
  • Be clear about your prospect’s action drivers and your own unique value position—is it really distinctive enough?
  • Reassess your opportunity qualification criteria—and the questions your salespeople should be asking
  • Make sure that your business case embraces the consequences of inaction as well as the return on investment
  • Make sure that your sales pipeline management stages reflect your prospect’s buying decision journey
  • Focus on identifying and eliminating the most common bottlenecks and causes of delay in your prospect’s buying-decision process
  • Capture the winning habits of your top sales performers and share the learnings across your entire sales organization

Remember: Keep calm and nail the second half of the year.

Source: Bob Apollo is founder of Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, a company that helps clients implement scalable selling systems to drive predictable revenue.