Now that we have a complete picture of the world in which we sell, we can turn back to the Dry Run. In every variation of that scenario, sales professionals are doing everything they have been taught, they are offering high quality, cost-effective solutions, and yet their conversion rate of proposals to sales is in free fall. Why?
The answer is that the nature of the enterprise sale and the opposing environmental forces of commoditization and complexity are making it extraordinarily difficult not just for sales professionals to bring in revenues, but for customers to fully understand the problems and opportunities that they face. The enterprise sale and the forces that affect it are impairing our customers' ability to make rational purchasing decisions. Ultimately, that is why the salespeople in the Dry Run did not win the sale. Their customers were unable to make a high-quality decision.
We are not saying the customers are incompetent, although many frustrated salespeople level that charge. The vast majority of customers are fully capable of understanding enterprise transactions. The problem is they don't have a process that can help them interconnect the key elements of their business to bring the required perspectives together to enable them to make sense of these transactions. That is the underlying thesis of this resource and the key insight that allows us to get inside the enterprise sale: Customers do not have the depth of experience and knowledge in each of numerous interrelated subjects that allows them to form high-quality decision-making processes, which are specific to the requirements of each and every purchase of enterprise goods and services. In transformative decisions, one size does not fit all.
The often ignored reality of the enterprise sales environment is that our customers need help. They need help understanding the problems that they face. They need help designing the optimal solutions to those problems, and they need help implementing those solutions. The next logical question is: What can we, as sales professionals, do about it? The obvious answer is to provide the help our customers need. But, unfortunately, that isn't the strategy taken by the majority of the leaders of sales organizations.
By and large, traditional sales leaders are focused on sales numbers, not the reasons behind them. They understand numbers very well and, like everybody else, they know that selling is a numbers game. So, the answer that we usually hear can be summarized in two words: Sell harder. They try to solve the problem by pumping up the system. They command their troops to make more cold calls, set more appointments, give more presentations, overcome more objections, and, thus, close more sales. If the company's conversion rate on proposals is 10 percent, they will simply write and present more proposals.
We've already described one problem with the "sell harder" solution. In today's environment, the number of potential sales is not infinite. At some point, you run out of viable opportunities and are forced to start chasing more and more marginal prospects. The other, more fundamental problem with "selling harder" to win the enterprise sale is that it fits the popular definition of insanity: You are doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. In the next chapter, we show you why that is so.