Does this sound familiar? You have a good opportunity, you expected it to close by the end of the year, it didn’t, you offered a discount, it still didn’t, you still think it will, but you can’t get them to pull the trigger.
This scenario happens more frequently than you can imagine. There are several reasons why so many salespeople find themselves in this jam and only one way to extract yourself.
How we got here
Experience tells us that salespeople manage to sabotage themselves just enough to get into this situation rather than what salespeople usually believe, which is that prospects not responding caused them to be there.
For example, what is the original source of the following 10 qualifying criteria:
- Projected close date?
- Actual Budget?
- Final Decision Maker?
- Prospect’s compelling reason to buy?
- Calculated cost of the prospect’s problem?
- Decision Making Process?
- Decision Making Criteria?
- Commitment to Move Forward?
- Comparison to the Competition?
My experience, validated by Objective Management Group’s (OMG)? data, suggests that for most salespeople, this information is arrived at byusing the following formula:
- 1 part guessing
- 1 part drawing conclusions
- 4 parts making assumptions
- 4 parts hoping
For example, consider OMG’S findings from 1.8 million sales assessments which show the percentage of people who are strong in these areas:
- Closing 6%
- Uncovering budgets 61%
- Reaching actual decision makers 52%
- Uncovering compelling reasons to buy 7%
- Qualifying 33%
Why are salespeople so weak in all of these important sales milestones?
It all comes down to Sales DNA, the collection of strengths that support execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales tactics and sales strategy. There are 6 major competencies in Sales DNA and In this case, there are 3 where salespeople are incredibly weak. As weaknesses, they appear as :
- A Need to be Liked
- Inability to Control Their Emotions
- Uncomfortable Talking about Money
The need to be liked prevents those salespeople afflicted with it, from asking questions for fear that the prospect will become upset with them.
The inability to control emotions causes them to be listening to the voice in their head instead of their prospects.
Their discomfort discussing money prevents them from having the financial conversations that are such an important part of professional selling.
When any two of those competencies show up as weak, it prevents salespeople from doing the things we ae discussing in this article.
In summary, salespeople are unable to listen effectively and ask the necessary qualifying questions, so they make assumptions about the opportunity, to what degree the prospect is motivated and committed to take action, how well qualified the opportunity is, where the salespeople stand in comparison to the competition, when it will close and for how much. Then hope and sometimes pray for a good outcome.
In lieu of all of that leverage and in an attempt to motivate their prospects to take action, salespeople and their managers resort to discounts. When those don’t work either, they simply follow up more, offer more discounts and wonder why the discounts don’t work. It’s at that point that salespeople finally ask for help. It’s usually too late by then but that doesn’t prevent it from being a good learning opportunity.
What can salespeople do?
It doesn’t hurt to move your prospect from a position of uncertainty to a position of certainty. The position you can move them to with the least amount of resistance is the one where they are not buying. Ask why they decided not to do business with you. You’re likely to hear one of the following responses:
- They haven’t made a decision yet. That means they either didn’t have or you didn’t help them become aware of their compelling reason to buy. Back up and find out why they were interested and continue asking questions until the root cause of their interest is revealed and you can quantify the cost. That will create urgency.
- They made a decision and awarded the business to someone else. You can still ask why and learn about the relationship they had with your competitor, their superior capabilities or the lower price they received.
- They made a decision and awarded you with the business. Unfortunately, if this happens, you’ll think you did everything right and my article is inaccurate.
Isn’t it time to incorporate and execute milestones into your sales process that will assure success rather than cause failure?