Bad News Early – Part 2

The principle of getting bad news early is better than bad news late was discussed in the prior briefing.

An example is given in the scenario that follows.
Beth was excellent at networking with business professionals, connecting the dots to open new doors and creating new customer opportunities. She excelled at getting appointments for initial meetings with prospective customers. She leveraged her outgoing personality, powers of persuasion, and sheer persistence to enlist the top performers in her selling team to work on her deals. She exceeded expectations in her ability to identify new sales opportunities.

However, her skills did not carry forward throughout the sales cycle. Once initially engaged with a customer, she did not ask the difficult questions that would help qualify the customer’s intent or confirm their ability to authorize expenditures. Yet, she hung on to these unqualified opportunities way too long.

On average, Beth ended up winning two deals out of ten she pursued. Too often, these deals appeared to advance but at the end she was informed that her team had lost. Not only was she wasting her time, she was burning the valuable resources of her selling team.

Getting bad news early more often would have helped Beth understand that being consumed with time-wasting activities is not productive. Over time, she learned how to better qualify opportunities. She received bad news early more often, and because of that, Beth won more deals.

In a situation like Beth’s, a much better approach would be to disqualify a prospective customer early by performing better qualification. Gain access to customer executives who will eventually make the final decision or authorize funding for the project. Develop a sponsor who can coach you through the maze within your customer’s organization. If none of this is possible, walk away, then go find better opportunities that you can win.

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