(Image courtesy of ValueSelling Associates)
On October 31, Halloween was in full swing here in the United States. When I went to sleep that Tuesday night, the nearby businesses were decked out in their spookiest best. When I went for a walk the following morning, those same businesses had already swapped their ghoulish decor for Christmas tinsel and garlands, and, when I got home, my inbox was overflowing with Black Friday deals.
Every year, the timing seems to accelerate, doesn’t it? One day, it’s business as usual. The next, we’re all barrelling full-tilt into the holiday season – jumping from one holiday to the next, with all of the associated parties, family gatherings and school closures.
And guess what? The ultimate decision-maker in that crucial Q4 deal you’re working on is in the same boat – and their attention span is dwindling by the minute. With that in mind, let’s help you put a plan in place for year-end success. One that focuses on elements that every salesperson can control.
High-value Sales Conversations
When the pressure mounts, we fall back on what we know. It happens to everyone. The good – and the bad news – is that salespeople know their products and solutions inside and out, so product knowledge is one of the first things we reach for on an instinctual level.
Here’s the hard truth: features and functionality have zero impact on stalled deals.
If a deal has stalled, it’s because something was missed earlier in the sales cycle, and now – at this critical moment – the prospect does not see enough value to create urgency.
Dive back into your O-P-C questioning process to diagnose where the opportunity went out of alignment. It’s vital to actively listen to understand your prospect’s challenges and ask authentic questions empathetically.
If you’re stuck, review the summaries of your original discovery calls – often, these recordings can provide crucial insights into the prospect’s original motivations. Once discovered, this intelligence is excellent fodder for thought-provoking anxiety questions that help prospects reengage.
The Power of the Mutual Plan
Signing on the dotted line is the natural conclusion to a well-run sales process – and nothing ensures an impactful outcome like the mutual plan. It is one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal to maintain control of the buying process, reduce risk and demonstrate your commitment to delivering meaningful value for the customer.
As you evaluate your Q4 deals, ensure you have mutual plans in place sooner, rather than later. All mutual plans should include the following:
- A clear summary of the prospect’s business issue
- An agreement on customer-specific value
- Understanding of the prospect’s decision-making process
- A call to action with a defined timeline
Remember: this is a two-way understanding of a company’s critical business issues and the activities needed to resolve them – you need buy-in from the prospect to make this work.
Identifying Your Blind Spots
Keep the holiday season from throwing a wrench in your business deals. Stay on track by planning and executing with expertise.
The key is to ask yourself: What am I not thinking of? What’s that unforeseeable gotcha that could crop up at the last minute?
It may sound paranoid, but this style of thinking is beneficial for mitigating roadblocks this time of year. And it’s not only on the seller side – prospects will encounter barriers internally that they were previously unaware of. Certain departments within their organization may become preoccupied with other projects or have internal deadlines they haven’t communicated, making it difficult to push through your deal.
Expanding the conversation now is vital: Ensure you clearly understand the buying process and anticipate any obstacles that may arise. Ask early on about the specific steps involved, who will be in the office at different times and what departments will be involved. Then, be sure that your schedule matches these essential deadlines so that if hiccups arise, you can provide direction and insight.
Most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute to close the deal before the year ends – this adds unnecessary stress and can cause prospects to become reactive. It’s crucial not to put undue pressure on your prospects. Instead, focus on delivering value with each interaction through authentic conversations, detailed mutual plans and the capacity to execute on those plans.
As we near the holidays here in the U.S., I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to you, the reader. Over the years, we’ve built a tremendous community of salespeople who strive to elevate our profession and drive outstanding results for our clients. I appreciate your commitment to learning and growth, and to uplifting those in this community. Here at ValueSelling Associates, we are privileged to play a role in your journey to realizing sales results you never thought possible.
For more selling advice, check out:
- “Beyond the One-Time Sale: Creating Customers For Life” in Forbes
- The recent episode of The B2B Revenue Executive Experience Podcast: “Why Your Marketing Messaging Needs a Makeover for Rocketing Engagement”
This article was originally published in ValueSelling Associates’ Voice of Value blog.