Stefan Captijn with Genesys Labs approached SBI this week with a blog topic. This topic centered on the sales rep’s dilemma. Specifically – when to walk away from an opportunity. He wrote us about a coworker who recently went through this. Naturally, he had been torn about what to do. We thought a Q & A blog would add value to quota-carrying sales reps.
Stefan has worked with Genesys since 2000. He currently focuses on Business Applications, such as Workforce Optimization and Enterprise Workload Management. With 20 years of experience, including Business Development, IT, Consulting, and Marketing, he’s a great source of business knowledge.
Stefan has a passion for running, cycling, building loudspeakers and enjoys public speaking and travelling the world. When not travelling, he calls the Netherlands home.
Genesys recently implemented a new Sales Process which is aligned to buyer’s journey. There are five stages, each with specific “exit criteria” aligned to buyer actions. Regarding the sales rep’s dilemma, the new Sales Process was utilized differently than you’d expect. No one ever wants to walk away from business. However, sometimes it has to be done (whether in the best interest of the account, the customer, or your own organization).
Later in the article I share a tool to assist those currently in this dilemma.
Q&A with Stefan Captijn from Genesys:
1) Can you briefly describe the opportunity?
A. A large financial institute in Northern Europe has been a long-standing customer of Genesys, using multiple products. There has always been successful implementation and a very positive customer relationship. A big RFP was launched for 35,000 licenses of a recording solution that would cover half of the rep’s quota (!) for 2013.
2) Genesys has a new sales process mapped to the buyer’s journey. Did the new sales process influence your decision to pull out of the deal? A. Yes it did. The sales process forced us to clearly understand if we were meeting the “exit criteria” to go to the next stage and submit the bid.
3) What were the deciding factors that lead to your decision to pull out of the deal? What was the hardest part of declining to quote? A. After finalizing the bid and going over the functional requirements again, we realized we could only deliver 30% of the requirement now. Committing the other 70% was a big risk as there were penalty clauses involved.
The hardest part was stepping over the sales rep’s “opportunity DNA”. Not bidding on a big opportunity that would drive quota was very hard emotionally. Logically everything made sense, but the mind (of the sales rep) couldn’t agree.
4) How will the loss of this deal affect you making your number in 2013? A. Obviously it reduces the rep’s pipeline significantly. What was important is that the bid happened early in the year. This also helped us decide to use our time on driving other opportunities, and not spend it on firefighting and fixing a broken customer relationship (potentially).
5) Did you feel your relationship with the customer would be in jeopardy if you didn’t quote on the opportunity? A. Initially, yes. The customer expected us to offer our solution. However, we also felt that in the longer run, we would benefit from being honest and open.
6) How has your decision to pull out of the deal actually affected your relationship with the customer? A. For the better. After the initial surprise and some disappointment, the customer realized that for us, the relationship was far more important than making short-term revenue. I bet money we might be invited back at the table to discuss how we would deliver in an alternative scenario.
It’s easy to get distracted by dollar signs. You hear the cha-ching of a big deal and desperately want to make it work. But as a B2B organization, your goal is to satisfy the customer. If you can’t, you will quickly lose credibility and future business.
Thankfully, this was the conclusion Genesys (wisely) came to with this opportunity. As a result, their business and customer relationship are both better off.
There are a few key takeaways from the case study:
A well defined sales process mapped to the buyer’s journey is crucial. It helps to direct efforts when emotions could otherwise take over.
Risk-Reward: Does the reward outweigh the risk of losing the deal? Losing the customer? Or losing future opportunities?
Declining to quote can actually improve the customer relationship. When done with the customer in mind, it shows sincerity and builds trust.
Opportunity Assessment Tool
It’s hard to get an accurate read on the situation from inside these opportunities. Sometimes you need a truly unbiased assessment to help you see the light.