The sales process is built on many phases, but the whole thing can go kaput at any point. Often you can blame yourself if it only gets as far as the discovery stage: you created a lack of communication between seller and buyer, you failed to actively listen, you neglected to build a rapport with the prospect.
But say you’ve conducted a near-perfect sales venture, successfully bridging a client connection, uncovering needs and challenges, presenting a custom-tailored solution that fits your client perfectly. The sad fact remains that the deal might still go sour.
Let’s take a look at six ways it can all go horribly wrong.
1. The Unknown
The unknown boogie man is a monster of your own making if you’re underprepared for a prospect meeting. Before you get on the phone with your smile voice, or walk into a conference room ready to glad-hand, have a clear goal in mind; know what it is before the meeting. Failure to do so can cause the deal to cough, spew, and croak on the shoulder of the road to success.
For example, if you have yet to hear back from a client after sending them a proposal, follow up with a clear objective. Instead of this weak mess: “Hey Matt, I just, like, just wanted to see if you got my proposal,” which sounds transparent and somewhat desperate, try this: “Hi Matt, regarding the proposal I sent you last Tuesday, please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions—I’d be happy to answer them. Otherwise, please let me know if you’ll be signing and sending the proposal by the end of next week. Thanks!”
2. Fear of rejection
You’re riding a wave of confidence toward the shore of the sales process. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into it. Then you lose your nerve and the wave breaks. Bam! You’re flailing. Dude! Gnarly! And the prospect knows it. That confident tone you possessed while the wave was peaking got lost in your fear of hearing “No.” Gone is the sense of your own greatness and the value of your offering. Naturally the client may use that as leverage for lowering the price.
Avoid that by keeping in mind that the client has been positive throughout the deal, and that you’ve countered all their objections with your good-sense solutions. Don’t create an issue where there isn’t one. Stay upright, confidently asking for a commitment to advance the process. Then you’ll be riding a rad wave!
3. Miscalculating the Close
It’s the Cinderella Effect: You don’t want to risk closing too early, just as you don’t want to arrive at the party too late. Knowing when to close is critical! Wrapping up too early gives your client the impression that your sole focus is making the sale. You can blame numbers 1 and 2 in this list for closing too late: Not having a clear goal in mind (#1), and losing your confidence even though the client comprehends the value of your solution and has given you positive feedback (#2).
4. Sputtering out With Statements
For both seller and buyer, the pressure’s on at the end of the deal. As the seller, don’t trot out statements. Use your skills as a close-ended questioner to nudge the process in a positive direction. If you say, “Liz, it would be ideal to talk again next Tuesday,” you’re creating an opening for the prospect to respond in several ways that can inconvenience you and be detrimental to the sales process. Get more specific, presenting an option in the form of a question: “Liz, are you available next Tuesday at 11am?”
5. Closing With People Who Can’t Deliver
If you’re selling only to Powerless Pete clinging to the low rungs of the company ladder, he may drop off completely, and so will your deal. At the very least, have multiple stakeholders at the presentation stage. Increasingly, sales happen by consensus, with interested parties from different departments or the C-suite. Make certain you’re selling to final-decision makers when narrowing in on the close. Remember, too many cooks spoil the soup, but you want to serve to a well-attended bargaining table.
6. Selling After the Close
Know this: You will raise objections if you keep trying to sell added features of your product after you’ve gotten a commitment from the seller. In order to close the deal, you must close your pie hole. It’s done. It’s good. It’s great. The only words that should come out of your mouth at this point are: “Nice doing business with you.”