More often than we’d like, deals get stuck on the road. Then we’re in a waiting game. We know that our products and services may not be top-of-mind for our prospects, yet it can feel like the momentum that was rolling down the road during the last sales presentation is now an old tire—flat and going nowhere.
But this time, instead of panicking or giving up, take a deeper look and, with the following in mind, find the nail in the treads, so to speak.
- Is the slowdown due to factors that are out of your control, like a budget freeze? Perhaps your contact left the company. Or maybe they reached out to you solely for a second opinion, got the data they needed and then went with the competition.
- Your prospect might not see your solution as the greatest fit—they just haven’t gotten around to letting you know that.
- The prospect has decided that your solution is viable, but she or he is concerned about a particular aspect of the deal—and has not yet properly communicated that to you.
Jumpstarting the Deal
If reasoning rolls you around to the conclusion that your deal stalled because the prospect has an objection to your solution, or to the way in which you do business, there are things you can do to win them over.
Take another look at your sales presentation, holding it up against what the prospect identified as their biggest priorities. If your solution does in fact meet those needs, did you clearly communicate your products and services as the greatest solution? If there’s more than one stakeholder involved, do their priorities align, or do they compete with one another? Drawing a solid line between the prospect’s need and your solution is key. If you’ve failed to show the cause and effect connection between your solution and a better business outcome for them, all the add-ons and features you might attempt to pile on won’t make any difference to the prospect.
It’s Not You, It’s...
It could be that the problem is not you or your solution, but another person at your organization, such as a technical expert who might have failed to make a good connection with the prospect. If that’s the case, you might consider replacing that person with another. For a deal to get rolling, you need trust and rapport between both parties.
The Stakes Are High
Share with the prospect that there may be consequences if they take no action at all. But be careful! You’ll need to thoughtfully craft how you say this, because you do not want to come off as defensive or pushy—in other words, you don’t want to put the customer off, especially if they might be interested in you but just have not acted on it. Help the prospect see the risks of inaction, but do this as a consultant, or trusted advisor, not a sales rep. What you should always be, in any sales situation, is the person who can provide the prospect with the kind of valuable insights they may not have had the wherewithal or the time to consider.
How’s My Driving?
The point in all of this is not to leave next steps to chance when a deal slows down. Tap into your inner mover and shaker, taking a proactive role in ushering the deal along. Be clear about responsibilities: what you owe the prospect, what the prospect owes you—such as providing you with additional information. Prior to the end of each meeting, provide clear next steps for a follow-up meeting. And rather than base your next move on assumptions, ask for feedback from the prospect—and do this at every stage of the process. Finally, after each client meeting or touch point, take stock of where you’ve been and if all the prospect’s concerns have been addressed with workable solutions.
If you’ve eliminated all the possible reasons for a deal blowing a tire on the freeway, and have concluded that the failure is based on factors you couldn’t possibly control and objections that aren’t in your power to counter, ask the prospect if the deal was premature. This will help you identify the serious buyers from the tire kickers just looking to see what’s available. If they’re only dinking around to get a feel for what could be, you’ll know pretty quickly, and hopefully won’t have invested a bunch of time already. If, on the other hand, they’re seriously looking to “solutionize,” you can use this time to unearth additional needs, one’s they may not have mentioned or don’t even know they’re wanting solutions for. In other words, you’ve got an opening for more talk, and talk drives you closer to the deal.