Every salesperson has worked with a prospect that has dragged their feet on making a final decision. You may be working with one right now. There’s that one deal (or maybe several) that you’ve grown tired waiting around to close. If it’s not moving forward like you expected, here are some questions to ask yourself as it relates to where you may need to go back and reassess.
Have you clearly quantified the business pain?
More often than not, if your opportunity is not moving forward, you haven’t dug deep enough on the negative consequences. Let’s say you’re solving a problem with payment processing and you know that your solution will get the buyer paid faster. However, do you know how much money they’re losing out on because they haven’t had a solution in place? What is that loss costing them?
Also, do you know who owns that business pain? Are you dealing with the person who’s job is on the line if it’s not fixed? Or perhaps the person who has a vested interest in getting a solution in place? Uncovering that pain is the first step to your buyers (1) correcting the issue and (2) seeing a return on their investment with your company. Without a clear quantification of the business pain, it’s more difficult to move a deal forward. It could be the one thing that moves your prospect to action, rather than letting your proposal simply sit in their inbox.
Have you articulated your competitive differentiation?
Opportunities are won and lost on competitive differentiation. How do you solve your customer’s problems differently and/or better than the competition? The critical component to answering this question effectively is to ensure that your answer has an impact on your buyer. You may have a more robust reporting structure, but if your buyer cares only about one metric that your competitor can also provide, that differentiator won’t help you move the deal forward. Reassess how you have positioned your solution against alternative options and determine whether or not you can make a stronger tie to the buyer’s required capabilities.
Have you done enough to articulate why you’re a better option than do nothing or do it internally?
As you know, your chief competition is often “do nothing” or “do it internally”. If you’re reassessing your deal, don’t forget to think about how you may be able to better position your solution against the prospect taking no action or trying to solve the problem him/herself.
In these situations, you’re still differentiating against an alternative and you need to do it in a way that demonstrates value to the buyer. When you position your solution against do nothing, you need the ability to differentiate against the pain of the problem, how will your solution impact the current pain? Have you articulated a large enough impact for them to take action? If your prospect is thinking about doing an internal initiative rather than going with a vendor, you have to differentiate based on the outcome. How can your solution get to the necessary outcome faster and more efficiently?
Do you understand the decision process?
Any decision process is made of two components. A validation process that evaluates how your solution will satisfy the buyer’s requirements and an approval process which is the sequence of events that need to happen to get the contract signatures.
You need to ensure you understand both components of the decision process and if you don’t, that could be why your deal isn’t moving forward. Remember, as part of your buyer-focused sales conversations, you need to qualify the opportunity based on the validation and approval processes. Ideally, you need to do this as you execute discovery. However, if you’re deal is stalled, you may need to backtrack and effectively define these two processes. Think of yourself as a “buyer assistant” and play the role of coaching your prospect through a well-vetted decision process that yields mutually beneficial results. You may know from your own experience, sometimes it’s just as tough to sell an idea internally for your prospect as it is for an outside vendor.