Sales Management

Sales and the “Definition of Done” — A Project Manager’s Perspective

Christopher Tuttle

It was a crazy week at Dreamforce. The PowerDialer for Salesforce 3.0 that we rolled out the first day of the conference was an incredible success. The number of inquiries, and the level of interest blew away our expectations.

Now back to the real world.

I have to admit, before Dreamforce, I was getting g little burnt out on the usual sales and marketing blog schtick.

How many different ways can you say, “Align marketing and sales,” or “Create a measurable sales process” before you’re repeating yourself (endlessly….repeating….yourself)?

So today we’re doing something different.

I don’t know anything about Pawel Brodzinski other than he’s a software developer, and he’s Polish.

But I bumped into a fascinating blog post on the “Definition of Done,” referring to the changing scope, problems, and goals that determine when a software product is “finished.”

He states, “Clients often deliver some wishful thinking as requirements, and then vendors go through them only roughly and come up with a generic document which describes fuzzily what should be done. No surprise the real goal appears to be changing over time as everybody realizes all the assumptions and gaps in initial plan.”

In other words: We often don’t really know what we want until we see it – – or don’t see it, and then realize we want something else.

If we can’t define for ourselves the customer’s “Definition of Done,” we’re going to have problems justifying our involvement.

(Whoops. Look like I really am going back into sales process. But the concept was so intriguing, I just had to bring it up.)

Ultimately in sales, there’s two ways of addressing that definition: we either abide by the prospect’s definition as they see it, or we create a new definition for them by educating them.

If this sounds like a rehashed version of “Qualify your customer,” maybe it is, but the difference is “Definition of Done” shifts the focus completely to the buyer’s end state. A sale may close in 90 days, but the customer’s relationship with the product and service going forward remains infinitely tied to their “Definition of Done.”

A sale is never about our “Definition of Done.” It’s always about the customer’s.

The worst kinds of clients are the ones that buy, only to realize in the initial setup phase that they’ve picked the wrong horse. The product or service they’ve chosen isn’t addressing the “Definition of Done” in their heads. They didn’t understand what was being sold, and the sales rep never bothered to address the issue.

As Sales 2.0 Network’s Donal Daly state, there’s only two reasons we lose a sale—either we shouldn’t have been there in the first place, or we get outsold.

We can never get complacent in assuming we know what the customer needs. We can never point to any one feature or benefit and say, “This solves everything.” As Pawel Brodzinski points out, the thing we think they want today may have little bearing on them buying from us in 12-15 weeks.

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