Sales: the magic formula.

Sales: the magic formula. 1024 576 Bruno Sireyjol

The number of testimonies from Entrepreneurs on LinkedIn who complain about spending too much time with prospects who eventually stay with their current vendors or do not make any decision is massive. Surprising as it may seem, the situation is no different with our customers. Sales executives, and not only junior reps who learn the ropes of the business, are reluctant to run away from opportunities which are dead from Day one.

In our article ” Solution Selling isn’t dead “, we stressed that selling is neither an art nor a science. Selling is a matter of common sense, where discipline and data play a key role. Frameworks and templates can therefore be developed and adapted to structure your own sales process. Hence the success of MEDDIC.

However, the bigger and the more complex the deals, the more you may find something is missing in the evaluation of your sales opportunities. Something that goes beyond pain qualification or metrics assessment. Something well beyond spotting and engaging with the key stakeholders or knowing and aligning with their buying process or decision criteria. Something irrefutable. Not only a method to execute a sales process but some kind of magical formula to ensure success.

The common denominator of successful deals or what turned out to be missing when conducting a postmortem of lost opportunities is ( Vision + Value ). A shared vision, a kind of emotional projection of customers into the future solution. Plus, a mutually agreed value perceived about the product and services offered. These are not distinct elements that need to be addressed separately, but interwoven ingredients, where Vision takes precedence over Value.

Because Sales Eagles do not need a sales process and to be reminded of the steps and activities that need to be completed at each stage to move deals forward, coaching them on Vision + Value works well. Yet, not every sales organization consists of Sales Eagles only. So, is there a magic sales formula? What equation can be leveraged to conduct the perfect sales process, forecast accurately and win every time?

To answer this question, let’s return to Solution Selling. The classic formula is S² = P²xV²xC, which means that the success of a sale is equal to (Pain x Power x Value x Vision x Control). Let’s modify the formula and add 2 “P”, one for “Phase” and the other for “Profile”. Let’s find out what’s behind our new formula:

S= P4*V²*(C).


Phase of the buying process:

This component is too often ignored by salespeople. It begins with the customer’s purchasing process stage. This qualification criteria is fundamental since it should influence the decision to engage or qualify out, and how to engage. Sales plays, game plans and activities to be completed should vary depending on whether customers reach out to your sales organization after completing their due diligence or your lead generation team has detected a latent opportunity.

We recommend you try this: the total score for the Phase must equal 1. Assign a score of 1 for a latent opportunity you can influence from scratch, 0.5 for prospects at consideration stage and 0.1 for prospects at decision stage. Do not move the needle till you get unambiguous evidence that you can compete, and you can win. This means that your customer must be willing to play by your rules – your sales process – or restart an evaluation process with your organization from step one.


Customer buying profile :

This is the customer’s buying traits. Selling to visionaries or early adopters has nothing to do with selling to skeptics or pragmatists. Especially in you sell software, the former will make average sellers brilliant. As for the latter, who are mainstream or post chasm buyers, your leading-edge solution will sound like the bleeding edge. For these customers, the proof of the pudding is the eating. Expect to be challenged on everything. Can your company become a reliable long-term partner? How does your solution stand out from the competition, beyond your marketing sauce? Is the insight your deliver worth their time and trust?

Your sales strategy and the steps to complete should be adapted to the buying Profile. The same applies to the probability of winning. You’ll have to award a 1 to the pioneers, 0.9 to the visionaries and so on through to the conservatives and skeptics. To go to 1, you need to perform specific activities designed to address the fears, doubts and expectations inherent in each profile.


Identified business pain :

We’re not going to waste time on this, are we? Let’s just keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not to detect a Pain, but to understand whether it’s strong enough for your customers to make a decision.

Our suggestion is to always start with a score of 0.1, move up to 0.25 once the pain has been admitted, and then allocate 0.25 to each of the following criteria: alignment with your customer’s strategy and priority initiatives, proven pain chain involving each decision-maker and identification of personal motivations for each stakeholder.


Decision-making power:

It’s not just a question of identifying and engaging with the Economic buyer. Rather, the first step is to assess how the ultimate decision-maker has made similar decisions in the past. Is consensus the norm or do top executives overrule lower ranking managers? Depending on your judgment, you should rate your access to Power and the interactions that go along with it between 0.1 and 0.25.

A score of 0.5 must be distributed among the other sources of Power. These include other Power sponsors, finance, users and implementers. The score depends on how individual interactions translate into evidence that they support your offer. The remaining 0.25 should be attributed to your understanding of informal decision circles and politics.


Perceived value of the offer :

A reminder before we go on: you do not deliver value until your product or services are implemented and the value is measured through the resolution of a personal or collective problem on the one hand, and quantifiable and mutually agreed financial metrics. Everything else is just promises. The score in this section depends mainly on your ability to how good you are at getting Value confirmed.

Metrics are important, of course. Value should mirror the Pains and the initial pain chain should be turned into a Value Pain Chain. This means you should be able to quantify the costs and benefits for each stakeholder. This section should count as 0.5. We recommend that you start at 0.1 and move up to 0.5 once you get your ROI approach and solution enablers fingerprinted by each stakeholder up to the ultimate decision maker.

The other half of the points should be awarded on the basis of your total understanding of personal issues you solve for each stakeholder. This is where you evaluate the emotional reason to buy. This is where you begin to understand that value is the eye of the beholder, and that value and vision are intertwined.


Business solution Vision:

The answer is straightforward. Option 1: the customer has no Vision of the solution. The customer is unaware of the problem you can solve. Although you have the opportunity to shape the vision towards your offer, this is typically a neutral situation. Allocate 0.5 and add 0.1 up to 1 as you progress on the following components: Pain, Power, Value and Control. Unless it was not clear enough, all the components of the equation are interdependent.

Option 2: the buyer has a vision of how the problem should be solved, this problem requires immediate attention and action, and your offer matches the Vision. You jump directly to Luck Square, and you get a 0.75.

Option 3: anything between a vision shaped by other vendors or an undifferentiated value vision that would lead to a discussion based on pricing only. Although it’s up to you to engage or flee, your goal is to reach 0.5. This is equivalent to putting the Vision factor back into neutral mode by making yourself equal before making yourself different and developing a shared Vision.


Sales cycle control :

Strange as it may seem, this component is optional. While finalizing the activities listed in your sales process is reassuring, control is sales 101. In other words, the magic sales formula has nothing to do with the number of boxes you tick in MEDDIC or MEDPICC. Scoring for Phase, Profile, Pain, Power, Value and Vision – independently and collectively – will testify whether you are in control or not.

Should you decide to keep Control in the equation, it should be assessed against a combination of positive outcomes and evidence that you have the upper hand against your competitors, including the no decision trap. Focus only on outcomes that are value based, auditable events that serve as unquestionable proof that your customer is moving in the right direction. Evidence include more elusive components: the momentum of the deal, the impact of your competitive strategy on customer decision deadlines or criteria, or adoption by the stakeholders of your sales jargon are one of them.


We hope you found this article useful. Of course, we don’t share all the details of the magic sales formula here. Its adoption has implications for your sales process, your sales forecasts, your management style and your success as a sales leader.

Contact us at Bold & Sharp to tell us about your needs. We will come back to you to share additional insight on how we score each component and how we combine them to predict success for leads, sales opportunities, and customer relationships.

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