How many “stuck” opportunities are you struggling with right now? If you’re like most sellers, these prospects drive you nuts. They don’t reply to your emails. They fail to return your calls. You even begin to wonder if you misjudged their interest.
The good news is, you’re not alone. According to CSO Insights, a whopping 54% of forecast deals fail to close. Worse yet, a significant percentage stay with the status quo.
As deals get older, they lose momentum, and that translates into a significantly lower probability of winning the deal.
Ken Rudin, Sales Analytics Expert
Not good. That’s why it’s imperative to keep deals moving. Yet “checking in” or “circling back” messages invariably don’t work—except to make you feel like a pest.
4 Steps to Accelerate Sales
The key is to prevent the slowdown from occurring in the first place. Here’s how to make that happen.
1. Start by identifying the real issues why prospects aren’t getting back to you. These are the root causes that need to be dealt with.
2. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. You’re a person who’s open to change because you think it could be beneficial to your company. You’ve invested time meeting with the salesperson. But now you’ve run into roadblocks (issues).
3. Then, for each issue you’ve identified, ask yourself, “What could minimize this issue, making it easier for us to move ahead?” Write down as many ideas as you can think of. Engage your colleagues too.
4. Finally, move back into your sales mind again. This time, identify any current resources you have that could help you with these issues. And, think about ones you (or your company) could create to eliminate these issues.
Here are the two most common issues I see … and some ideas for momentum-building tools and sales resources.
Issue: We don’t see enough reason to change.
You need to help your prospect see things differently. They may need help justifying the financial investment too.
Keep the deal moving by leveraging:
- Articles/reports on relevant industry trends, challenges facing organizations today or emerging business models
- Assessments to determine if costly problems or missed opportunities exist
- Interviews with industry experts and thought leaders
- Case studies featuring clients before/after scenarios
- White paper on the business case for change
- Benchmark tools to enable comparisons
- ROI and payback analysis tools to determine value in making a change
Issue: We’re struggling to get buy-in.
With most decisions today involving 5+ people, getting everyone to agree to a change initiative is a real challenge.
Here are some tools to address this issue:
- Map of decision steps, who needs to be involved, and choice points
- Guidelines for leading a change initiative, showing how to gain consensus for a higher-level vision of the future
- List of key factors, tough questions, and decision criteria to consider in making the change
- Videos of customers who’ve already done this, lessons learned, surprises and potential pitfalls
- Peer-level meetings with teams from your organization and your prospects
- Interviews with individual leading the change initiative in a similar company
Take Advantage of Momentum-Building Sales Tools
These tools are meant to be used—proactively. If you keep in mind how people make buying decisions, you’ll know when to leverage the next resource. For example, one of my clients discovered sharing an industry analyst’s report was instrumental in speeding up their sales cycle.
Another developed a preliminary business case assessment to use fairly early in the decision process. This enabled them to quickly determine if it made sense to continue the conversation—plus, it helped their prospect line up early support.
Still another company was able to speed things up by sharing videos of their actual clients sharing what they wished they knew before they started a change initiative. These videos did two things: (1) they removed buyer angst and (2) increased their own credibility.
What if your company doesn’t provide sales tools?
At this moment, you may be discouraged because your company doesn’t have any good tools. Or, you could be absolutely sure that your boss wouldn’t invest in them. Don’t let that stop you.
We are human beings — tool creators. That’s what differentiates us from other species of life on this planet. You are fully capable of creating your own sale tools. You can find good resources online. You can be creative. You can experiment with different ways to eliminate these issues before they arise.
Or, you can keep circling back and checking in … hoping that your stuck prospects finally decide to take action.
Will you be proactive or reactive? It’s up to you.