We’ve all had deals that get stuck in a rut. I get asked about this situation frequently on my sales training courses. You did a great job understanding the client’s needs. You put a great business case together. The client said they’d make a decision on Friday. But Friday has come and gone several times and now they are not as responsive as they were. What should you do when your deal gets stuck?
Step 1 – Don’t hassle them. You could lose the deal by irritating them. You do need to be persistent but use the steps below to figure out where the problem is and act swiftly to unlock the deal. Be clear on the next steps. If you can help to project manage the sale, this adds value into the sales process and can differentiate you from your competitors.
Step 2 – Recognise where they are in the purchasing process. You may think that they are evaluating their alternative options – you or the competition – but they may be in the concerns phase. What’s really happening here is that when the buyer has looked at the different options, they enter a period of ‘Concerns’. Previously unknown concerns surface as they scrutinize the risks around making the purchase and implementing the solution. Only when the concerns have been satisfied, will the customer makes the decision and place the order.
Step 3 – Understand what the ‘Concerns’ are and work with the client to resolve them. Ideally you should be anticipating the concerns earlier in the sales process, so they don’t block the deal later on. This again adds value and show you to be the ‘Trusted Advisor’.
Step 4 – Align all of the stakeholders. To do this, prioritise those stakeholder with influence over the deal. Then ascertain their position in relation to your solution – are they for or against you? You can then develop strategies to ensure the stakeholder all become aligned behind you.
Step 5 – Ensure the competition do not steal your deal. Work with the client to understand the criteria that they are using to make their decision. With the criteria that you are stronger than the competition, help the client to put specific criteria in their decision-making that the competitors cannot reach. Where you are not as strong as the competition, make these criteria vague.
Step 6 – Give your client multiple options to consider. Be careful here as multiple options can cause procrastination. But giving multiple options for different scenarios can speed up the process as they don’t need to come back to you as often, and increasing the options for different purchasing scenarios, makes it more likely you’ll be the right fit.
Step 7 – Look for a win-win when the negotiation starts. People come to my negotiation training to learn how to get more for themselves. A side effect of effective negotiations is that the negotiation goes more quickly too. If you can look for a win on both sides, not just your side, the deal will close more quickly and you’ll get a better result.
Conclusion – when your deal is stuck in a rut and not moving there are seven things you can do to make sure you keep the process moving forward. Don’t just increase the number of calls you make, that will not help you to close deals. Take a good look at what you’ve done so far and use these seven steps to unlock it.
Article by Alistair McQuade