There are few feelings more exciting than landing a big sale. If it does not get you pumped up then you are in the wrong business; it's as simple as that. The months and perhaps years of work that goes into a significant sale are an investment of your time, money and most importantly ego. Even if the sale is worth only $250,000 in revenue you most likely have worked between 200 and 400 work hours to land the sale. You have put it all out there for the world and your colleagues to see. If the sale is really significant than you have an opportunity to not win, so when you win it is a really big deal. Your adrenaline is going crazy, you want to jump up on the desk and shout out to the world that you are a winner! And you should. Enjoy the win. Go out to dinner and celebrate with your family and/or colleagues. This is a win.
But what do you do next? It has been my observation that you take one of two paths over the next week or two that will determine if you are a professional in your field or if you are just a bag carrying salesperson.
Regardless of which path you take, after your celebration the first thing to do is make sure your operations team is fully aware of what you promised the client. Put it all down on paper. If it is not on paper it is just a wish. You have to deliver, so be a professional and get it down on paper immediately. Tell the ops team the who, what, where, when, why and how much for the entire project. Leave nothing out. No detail is too small for this exercise. I know how difficult it is for sales people to write, but take the time to do it and do it completely, you will soon see why this is important.
Again, the documentation you write should be done no matter which of the two paths you take. But, taking the right path will lead to much more success than taking the wrong path.
The Wrong Path. When I first came to work at Buxton I sat next to the most professional sales person in our organization. He had worked at Xerox and taken their sales course. He knew the course inside and out. He knew when to ask a closing question and what do to if the answer was no. He knew how to deliver a presentation and keep the client involved in the discussion. He was likable and friendly. He had it all going on. Our operations team voted him the salesperson they liked the most.
About two months after I started, this sales person closed a big sale; the biggest sale in the history of our company. And here is where the paths split. He stopped working on earning new clients. Just stopped. He had just landed the biggest sale in the history of the company, why should he have to continue to prospect? Wouldn’t the world come to him? Over the next six months our best trained sales person did not make a single sale or outgoing call looking for a new client, not one. In fact, he let his sales pipeline run completely dry.
I got to observe this and learn a big lesson. In the retail world, you really do have to wait for customers to come into your store. There are small things you can do every day to stack the odds in your favor that they will come in, but that is one of the few things that you really don’t control. In the B2B world, that is not true.
So, while our best person was celebrating his big sale I was making smaller sales; but I never stopped prospecting. At the end of the year my pipeline was full, I had made more sales, and I was his boss.
So, what are the 5 things you should do after you make the sale to make sure you are successful?
1. Realize that the lead for your next sale is the customer you just signed. Your customer wants to brag to his friends about the new product or service he/she just bought. Find out who those friends are and ask for an introduction. Do it at the appropriate time, but don’t forget to do it. And now that you made the sale take the client out to lunch or dinner to thank them for their business. If you think about the six degrees of separation, your newest client will know other companies that need your service that are not a conflict.
2. Determine if there is somewhere else in the company might need a part of your service that your newest client did not purchase. If you think about your product or service as a prism, you can turn it around to see different opportunities sitting within a company. Make it a point not to get siloed within a company. You want to be seen as the leader of a team which can answer many questions.
3. Set the tone the client should expect from your company on a go forward basis. The answer is not always yes and right now. You have to be reasonable to both your client and your team that is doing the work. If your client needs a part of the project done quicker, find out why. If it is just curiosity than the client is better off waiting until the entire project is complete. However, if there is a legitimate reason for their request then go back to your ops team and work on a solution. If you set a cooperative tone at the beginning of the project then you are most likely to get cooperation throughout the project which will lead to you delivering a better product.
4. Get permission to send out a news release. This release is important for both you and your client. It tells the world that your client is forward thinking because they hired your company. It also tells the world that both the client and your company are growing and moving forward. And, it will get your name in front of your next client, because they all read about their competitors. Sam Walton used to always tell the world what he was doing, he just executed it better. Sam built the most sophisticated retail distribution system the world had ever seen. He was simply smarter about execution than his competitors.
5. Tell everyone in your company. When you make a sale it is a BIG deal. Without sales there will be no one working at your company, no one. So they should all celebrate with you. Because without the team behind you there would be nothing for you to sell, nothing. Celebrate together. It can be fancy or it can be simple. Bring in a cake, cookies, champagne, ice cream cones, product from your newest account (we actually had some of the new accounts give us merchandise to share with our team, including Ben & Jerry’s and New Balance - we could get chubby and work it off). But do celebrate. That celebration will gain the buy in of the entire company. Instead of only you making the sale, your entire team will feel like they all have made the sale. It is a much better feeling.
So, which path are you going to take? Are you going to celebrate and wait for the next sale to come to you or are you going to be the person that enjoys the sale and continues to work on the next sale for your team.
Rich Hollander is a retail expert with over 40 years in the industry.