I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. I have a sales coach who supports me, helping to analyze my actions during the sales process. It's very focused on what we are doing now and what we should do next. But I just realized that I should know what has worked best in the past and what has not worked. I can sit down and write out what went right on the project I won, what went wrong on those same deals and then I can write out what went wrong on the deals I lost (most everything...) but won't that yield an entirely biased list?
So, I started to think about every time I call on my customers, asking them questions on their progress, their roadblocks, their strategies. Everyone of them loves to talk about the product, their project and how things are progressing. So this is where the connection happened.
Now that I personally have a number of customer projects that I have lead the sales effort, it would make the most sense to query those people on how I did. What went right, why they selected my company, what I could have done better. That might also yield a positively biased reaction (we would hope). So, I thought I should include some prospects that didn't select me because of some obvious reasons.
Now, I put together a scenario of how I would contact each customer, introduce my coach and then lead the coach into an assessment interview. All of my customers are from the organizational effectiveness and development space. So, they should get the fact that I want to conduct a peer review using them.
This is the email I laid out.
Dear Customer of Mine,
I am trying to create some development actions and improve my performance (boy, those words sound very familiar). I obviously sell talent management software and certainly feel the need to have my own talent plan. Since you are I have had a close vendor/client relationship that has lasted for quite some time, I was hoping that you might be able to participate in my performance improvement program.
I have been working with a sales coach for quite some time conducting mentoring and coaching sessions. To expand my program, I thought some peer reviews would be of valuable to my coach and allow some different perspectives (I am sure he is tired of hearing my own assessment!) So, I have asked him to contact you (with your permission) to provide some input to about 5 assessment questions that he has created . In respect of your time, this will only take 10 minutes on the phone.
Can I ask him to contact you directly for this short interview session?
How does that sound?
Here are my set of questions to pose....the question is "Will I gather the information I am looking for, some unbiased third-party opinions of me, my selling process, my attitude and how I compare to others doing the same thing???
1) (FOCUS ON THEM) Overall, how much impact on your final selection did the product have or did the salesperson have? (maybe percentages, maybe preferences)
2) In looking at this buying process, could you describe some best practices that you uncovered that will help you in future buying decisions?
3) (FOCUS ON ME) What did the salesperson do that was particularly effective and helped to differentiate him from his competitor's salespeople? maybe ONE top of mind example that sticks out?
4) Could you describe your experience (in a couple of sentences) in the process of buying a product from Jamie in comparison to other corporate purchase decisions you have been involved with?
5) What could the salesperson have done differently to help you along in the selection process or towards a buying decision?
6) From a best practices standpoint, what could you recommend to the salesperson? maybe doing something better that might have changed the buying process - made your life easier, made things simpler?
7) If you uncovered a colleague with a similar need to the product or service you purchased, how likely would you be to refer that colleague to Jamie?
8) Finally, Would you be willing to give this salesperson a testimonial? written via email or place directly into linked in?