What follows is a way to think about each stage of the sales conversation that better describes how you should treat it to prevent losing your mojo.
Prospecting Activity is a Game
Those who struggle to commit to prospecting, believing it to be a chore, would benefit from recognizing that it is, more or less, a game. The nature of the game is to figure out how to get a meeting with your dream client. Getting through the first level of the game means communicating with the contact, and the second level requires that you compel them to say "yes" by trading them enough value for their time that they put you on their calendar.
Discovery is both a Game and Teaching
There is every reason to feel good when you win a deal, but the most enjoyable part of the sales conversation seems to be the early stages, discovery being one of them. One of the goals of discovery is to uncover the nature of the client's challenges, something we can label as "traditional discovery." But discovery has moved beyond legacy sales approaches to include "teaching" your prospect or helping them make sense of their world and their challenges. The game requires you to cause your prospective client to experience the "aha" moment that transfers your question into their new insight to score points here.
To transfer your insight to your client, you need to have the necessary insights to create the "aha" moment and the questions required to cause the contact to recognize that they just discovered something about themselves.
Differentiation is Teaching
The way you create value for your contacts is by helping them make good decisions for their business, making decisions that improve their results. Too many salespeople want to differentiate on their company or their product when they should focus on the differentiation they create throughout the sales conversation. Because you have the experience to explain which factors will be critical to their results and the different delivery models they will have to choose from, you can differentiate by providing better guidance about selecting a solution and a partner.
It's imperative to recognize that your experience allows you to help your prospective clients avoid mistakes because they lack an understanding of the different choices available to them and why one I better than another.
Consensus is Solving a Puzzle
Gaining consensus is very much like a puzzle. You have to identify all the pieces and explore where they might fit to make a picture. In many cases, it can feel like solving a puzzle that is missing several pieces as you build the outer edges (always the most comfortable place to start). The order in which you have specific meetings with certain stakeholders can make it easier or more difficult to gain consensus. Then there is the challenge of gaining support or consent not to block an initiative, a puzzle that requires finding a way to get to yes.
Moving the pieces into line with the others is often incredibly difficult, challenging you to use your creativity to imagine the picture and figure out how to build it.
Presentation is a Performance
Your presentation is a performance. The performance requires that you demonstrate that you have the greatest understanding of your client's challenges and deeply understand what is necessary to improve their results. You also have to confirm that your solution is right for them and more certain to produce better results by choosing you as a partner than any of your competitors, which you hope to have already established by your earlier conversations.
Part of your performance is thinking on your feet, handling the tough questions, as well as the ones from out of left field, the ones you didn't expect, maybe the most enjoyable part of your performance.
Negotiation is a Chess Match
Negotiating is like a chess match with both you and your client using competing strategies to arrive at a deal. Your strategy is to maintain the profit margin you need to deliver the results your client needs. Their approach is to discount the value you create, pressuring you to take money out of their solution while still committing to produce the results.
Were you to learn to play chess, you would start by studying "openings," the first few moves that set up later success. A large part of your success here is your position.
Winning Deal is an Accomplishment
Winning a deal provides for a tremendous sense of accomplishment. You created an opportunity and captured it, an outcome of which you should be proud to have achieved. To get to this point, you have to have made it through the gauntlet of all the initial conversations, no mean feat. You have every right to recognize the accomplishment and celebrate your win, even though this is not the greatest value you create.
Winning sometimes feels as if it is the end of this cycle, but it is better thought of as the beginning. While winning is your accomplishment, your client's better results are your real contribution.
Client's Improvement is Your Contribution
Your real win comes after you sign a contract. Your real success is having helped your client produce the better result they needed by solving their problem and helping to move them forward. Your contribution goes far beyond winning; it means your work made a difference for others. Making things better for other people is what it means to "do good work."
Those who still cling to the idea that salespeople are self-oriented brutes and are out of sync with their buyers would do well to recognize how many salespeople do their work because of their contribution to their client's results.
Your Client's Future is a Relationship
You want to sell in such a way that you earn an absolute right to the next deal, one that you are going to proactively recommend to your client to keep them progressing towards greater results. Your relationship requires you to do this before external factors threaten their results and before the status quo has a chance to take hold.
Have success this week!