MaRS Library The sales process: To increase sales opportunities, identify sales risks and problems
During the sales process, you need to identify and then deal with potential problems and risks before they can jeopardize the sales relationship. Remember, every sales opportunity contains risk. This article outlines five typical sales risks that every small business needs to identify and remove to increase sales.
Most sales process problems can be overcome by first learning to recognize the red flags. Red flags serve as warning signs, which represent potential risks or problems that can interfere with the sales process.
Red flags can be identified early in the sales process, which is the best time to deal with them. By learning how to spot red flags, you will then be able to deal with them before they can negatively influence your sales opportunities.
Five commons red flags in the sales process
Many factors can threaten potential sales opportunities. There are five typical red flags:
Lack of information
You have unanswered questions about your stakeholders, the role they play in the sales process, and their preferences. Without this information, you cannot be assured of your position.
Uncertainty about information
You are uncertain (that is, less than 90% certain) about the information that emerges during the sales process in terms of how it affects your position with stakeholders. This uncertainty can lead you in the wrong sales direction.
You have not been able to contact certain stakeholders, which represents a risk to the sale. A stakeholder who is not involved in the sales relationship can put it in jeopardy.
Stakeholders who are new to their role or organization
Any stakeholders that are new to the organization or their role must be dealt with in the same way as other stakeholders, but with slightly more caution. Their role in the sales process may either increase or diminish as a function of being assigned new responsibilities and projects as they settle into their position.
Reorganizations routinely terminate or delay sales processes. If key stakeholders sense that their position will change, they may focus on organizational politics over doing their job. Even executive reorganization, which may appear to only affect those at the top, may impact your sales through realignment of decision rights and budgets behind the scene.
Identifying these red flags and others is one step in the process. The next step is to remove the obstacles to the sale. Some problems are more challenging to deal with than others, as it may be difficult to access information or stakeholders.
To learn more about dealing with red flag situations, read the article entitled Sales tactics for dealing with sales risks and problems.
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Heiman, S. & Sanchez, D. (1998). The New Strategic Selling. New York: Warner Books, Inc.