As a group of salespeople were gathered for their weekly sales meeting, their manager said he had an exercise on focus that they would complete first. The manager walked around the room and laid a sheet of paper, face-down in front of each salesperson. He then told them to all turn the handout over. On the sheet was a single black dot in the middle of each page.
The sales manager told each person to write as much as they could in three minutes describing what they saw on the sheet of paper. After he collected their observations, he read some excerpts to the group and asked them what they all had in common. They replied that they all described the black dot.
While the instructions were to describe what they saw on the sheet of paper, no one attempted to mention the rest of the page. They were focused solely on the black dot.
That level of focus serves us well when the goal is clearly defined and agreed upon, but often we narrow our focus too soon, and miss the insights that are on the “rest of the page.”
Let’s look at three areas in the sales process where this might play out.
In the sales process, there is one decision-maker. So it would seem you should focus solely on that decision-maker, right? No. Actually, your focus should be on the whole decision-making process. Why? Because although there may only be one decision-maker, you can never underestimate the power of the decision influencers.
As you ask questions in a needs analysis, it’s important to walk away with a specific assignment focused on achieving a specific desired business result. But you want to begin with open-ended questions that get the prospect talking about desired results you may not know about yet. Then follow-up with closed-ended questions to zero in on specifics of the insights the prospect has shared.
It’s effective to partner with your prospect and focus on how to help them achieve their goals, Don’t let that focus keep you from identifying and discussing details that may end up as unwanted surprises when you’ve reached the time to present and close your solution.
In our Sales Accelerator process, we teach that the focus is on finding and delivering the desired business results of the prospect. Proper focus at the right times can accelerate the sales process. But focusing too soon on “the black dot” or ignoring the “rest of the page” could result in missing key decision influencers, not asking the type of questions that reveal new insights, or ignoring the fine details that can create surprises and derail the sale.