Are You Suffering From Success Deficiency Disorder?

By Tom Searcy, author, speaker, and the foremost expert in large account sales

Success Deficiency Disorder (SDD) hits sales people, sales leaders, and business owners alike. Typically this occurs as a direct result of a prolonged exposure to the following:

  • Lower than average new sales lead volume
  • Sequential 2nd place or worse finishes in big deals
  • Loss of one or more key accounts

Rough business cycles mixed with a couple of important losses and your confidence can get knocked on its ass. It happens to the most grounded people and it definitely has happened to me.

A big risk is the over-correction factor. You may remember this from learning to drive a car in a parking lot someplace with your dad, mom, or a friend. You are driving slowly but it suddenly seems like you are going to hit the light pole, so you swing the steering wheel hard — then you are off course and headed for a different problem. This is what happens when you over-correct. But you have to do something different if you want to get different results, right? Here’s what you should do:

First, get grounded. You did not suddenly become stupid, irrelevant, or of lesser value. You need to get back to your value and success. The easiest way to do this is to call a friendly customer. When you connect with them (or more than one of them depending upon how bad your SDD is), do the following:

  1. Find out how great things are going, what has changed, and what you should add to any reference request that you might receive.
  2. Ask if their needs have changed or are anticipated to change.
  3. Ask for some help in identifying other companies with whom you should be speaking.
  4. Do a quick market scan. What is their opinion of what is going on in the market right now? What will change in the next year? Who is impressing them in their market and who is at risk?
  5. Gossip. Ask them what they are hearing, who they are listening too, and where they are getting their market intelligence now.

The point of this is to dive a little deep, pull out information, and re-connect to the market, the client, and the opportunities out there.

Second, get clear. Do not change every thing. One of the most dangerous things that you can do is to wildly switch over from strategies and tactics that might be on the verge of producing the results you want. Here is what to do:

  1. Look for the trends, not the events - One or two failed prospects doesn’t tell the whole story and may not be enough to alter your course. Look for the commonalities over a number of lost deals or failed marketing strategies to determine what the trend is.
  2. Identify the point in the process where you are losing traction - If you are using a clearly defined sales process, then your data should tell you where you are losing traction. Focus your diagnostics on that step and ask the questions of messaging, people, process, and tools to determine if the process needs adjustment.
  3. Reassess who you’ve been working with - Inside the question about your process is the question about the people with whom you’re dealing. Often we aim a level or two lower than we should.
  4. Analyze the variables in the deal - How big was it? What kind of deal? Who was involved? How did you source it? All of these are questions that you can use to diagnose commonalities — and potential sources for problems — in your sales process.

Third, get going. All right, shake it off. You have gotten clear on what the real consistent issue is. Now it’s time to develop and implement strategy. My recommendation is to develop each of following three strategies, but then only implement one:

  1. Contact strategy - Build bigger pipeline
  2. Qualifying strategy - Build better pipeline
  3. Closing strategy - Build a better pitch strategy

I know that it is tempting to run at all three of these strategies, but if you have done your work in determining the trends, only one of these really needs to be fixed. Focus on that one area for 30 days and see if you can’t improve your results. When making changes, less is more. Execution and persistence is more important than the number of changes that you make.

You can beat SDD.