Do your sales opportunities have a single point of failure? Triangulate!

Here’s a great read from Julie Thomas from Value Selling

When a power outage occurs, entire infrastructures are knocked offline.  Communication becomes difficult,  businesses halt, and a difficult travel commute becomes near impossible.

We wonder what the cause is: Is it the weather or is something more sinister taking place? It usually turns out to be a single point of failure. One small error that sets in motion a cascade of power outages across a huge region. Outages shouldn’t happen, but they do.

How many of you have a single point of failure in your active pipeline?  Are you speaking with only one buyer?  Are you taking direction from a single person, regardless of their role in the buying process?  If so, your opportunity could be at risk since the information you are basing everything on is probably incomplete or inaccurate. If that is the case, your entire opportunity can lead to “no-decision.”

Triangulation is a term used both in mathematics and in navigation. The concept is that if one knows two data points, they can measure the distance and pinpoint the location of the third point. In social sciences, triangulation has become a technique used in qualitative research to overcome bias and prejudice when conducting studies.

In sales, triangulation can be a powerful technique in discovering the truth, eliminating bias, and mitigating the risk of a single point of failure in your sales cycle.

Triangulation is built on the principle of threes. The more information and perspective that you have about your prospects, the better positioned you will be to serve them and convert them to your customers and clients. Here’s how it works:

Identify three new stakeholders for each opportunity. One of the most difficult challenges facing sales professionals is getting in the door and securing a meeting or sales call with someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t think they need your product or service. Often, you will be prospecting the contact again and again. What if you spend some time identifying at least three stakeholders for each opportunity?

Talk to at least three people about the same subject. In your client or prospect’s organization, ask the same set of questions to multiple individuals. You will learn much from multiple perspectives in their responses. You will be able to discern the truth, identify potential biases, and mitigate the risk of taking just one person’s perspective as the complete and total truth.

The technique of asking a similar set of questions of multiple people will provide you with tremendous insight.

Triangulation Best Practices:

  • Work to avoid a single point of contact within your prospects. Build executive, middle management, and user relationships. Each role will have a different perspective and insights. By engaging multiple people, you can begin to identify patterns in thinking and behavior within the organization.
  • Listen for what is the same or different. Hearing conflicting information when engaging multiple buyers will give you clues and identify gaps in information. It will tell you when to look for additional perspectives.
  • Confirm what you have learned.Confirm understanding and ask for clarity where the information from different people is not congruent.
  • Always ask yourself: “Who else should I be talking to? Am I at risk if this information is incomplete?”
Triangulation is a powerful tool in identifying who is involved with purchasing decisions and how those decisions are executed. Validate your selling process by speaking with at least three individuals within each organization. You’ll become more effective and deliberate at risk mitigation and will win more business!
photo credit: tom magliery
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