17 Oct 2019

Collaborative sales success

Many sales opportunities get stuck at the end of the sales process and do not close, leading to frustration for sellers. Especially in the B2B sales with all the hardwork of proposals, pilots or demo stages and presenting the commercials, some buyers catch cold-feet and delay the closing.

How can this be addressed is a common question among many salespeople?

One of the key rules to be remembered for sellers is, though it is always enticing to pursue sales opportunities, not all sales opportunities are the same.

Sometimes it is better to let go of some opportunities in the middle of the sales process. But for most sellers, it is indeed a difficult decision to let go of sales opportunities.

2 primary reasons that sellers are reluctant to walk away from the unqualified sales opportunities are

  1. They usually don’t have enough opportunities in their current pipeline.
  2. They don’t have an objective way to assess if further engagement is required with the potential buyers.

In The book Collaborative Sales – Solution selling in Buyer Drive World, the authors share Sales Success Formula. It is

P x P x V x V x C x C = Sale

The components of the formula are:

  • P-Pain :(Problem, Critical Business Issue, Or Potential Missed Opportunity, Potential Cost Savings). Do we know what buyer pain(s) we are solving? Has the buyer admitted that there is a problem, critical business issue, or potential missed opportunity that needs to be addressed?
  • P-Power: (People with influence or authority). Do we know the people in the buyer organization with influence and authority, related to this opportunity? Can we gain access to them? Can we influence their thinking? Do they support a mutually determined vision that includes our solution?
  • V-Vision: Do all the stakeholders agree on a vision of a solution? Can we provide unique or highly differentiated aspects of the vision?
  • V-Value: Have we quantified the value of the problem, critical business issue, or potential missed opportunity? Have we quantified the value of the proposed solution? Does the buyer agree that there is enough value in our solution to take action?
  • C-Collaborate: Have we and buyer agreed on a mutual plan for action – a Collaboration Plan! Is the buyer collaborating with us? Is the buyer actively showing interest? Are we engaging actively with the buyer to help progress towards a purchase decision, in a way that minimizes or mitigates the buyer’s risk?
  • C-Compelling reason to act: Is there a time-bound event that is driving the purchase decision, beyond which bad things may happen? Are these potentially negative implications of delay acknowledged by the buyer?

In applying the formula, assign one of the following values to each criterion:

  • + = All answers are known for this criterion, and they are favorable to us.
  • ? = Answers are currently unknown for this criterion
  • – = At least some of the answers are known for this criterion, and they are unfavorable to us

How to evaluate?

If all criteria in the formula are positive, then the chances of winning the sale are very high.

If there are any unknown factors, then the outcome is still indefinite, and the seller actively should focus on the true nature of any uncertain criterion.

If any criteria are negative, then the chances of winning the sale go virtually to zero; Unless you can realistically change the value of those criteria, then you should consider qualifying out that opportunity.


Many buyers worry about taking decisions and during the final negotiation stage and delay the process. Sellers wonder what may be the reason the buyer not taking action. Unless the buyer is evaluating other vendors, the chances are buyer doesn’t qualify the above-mentioned criterion.

It is always good to keep evaluating sales opportunities and explore the right action to move the sales to next to stage.

Good to remember this sales rule,

Sales rarely get made on the first pitch. Just because you believe in something doesn’t mean everyone else will. You need to be able to sell your vision with conviction over and over again. Most people don’t like change, so you need to be able to convince them why they should accept it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

Stephen A Schwarzman, Chairman,CEO of Blackstone Group