Closing Sales: Jump Start Stalled Sales – Four Steps to Help
Closing Sales: By Craig James, Sales Solutions Founder and President, Via SOLDLAB
Closing Sales: We all know how frustrating it is when a sales opportunity we’ve been working on suddenly stalls out. Our instinctive response is to begin thinking of ways to accelerate the prospect’s decision about the sale, usually by offering some financial incentive (a discount). Paradoxically, this often has the opposite effect. The prospect senses your eagerness, which may be perceived as desperation, making you less attractive, and causing a further delay in purchasing your product or service. Is there a better way?
ANTICIPATE DELAYED DECISION MAKING
In order to find a better way, it helps to understand the three primary reasons why prospects who clearly want or need what you have to offer, delay making a decision: analysis paralysis, the inability of a committee to come to a consensus, and the fear of making the “wrong” decision. Furthermore, in tight economic times, the perceived risks of making the “wrong” decision are exacerbated, making people even more skittish and reluctant to make financial commitments.
An effective way to minimize the frequency with which you encounter delays is to try to head them off before they have a chance to manifest. There is little you can do if a prospect delays a close by not getting back to you; however, you can avoid delays in closing by taking the following steps early in the sales cycle.
1. DETERMINE THE DATE BY WHICH THE PROSPECT WANTS TO MAKE THE PURCHASE, AND WHY.
Establishing a target purchase date provides a basis for determining whether you’re on track or you are headed towards a delay. Asking “why” sets the table for the follow-up question about the cost of delaying. This will be an important lever to pull if things do indeed get off track.
2. GET THE PROSPECT TO SPECULATE ON WHAT MIGHT CAUSE THAT DATE TO BE MISSED, AND WHAT COULD BE DONE TO MINIMIZE THE LIKELIHOOD OF THAT HAPPENING.
This is akin to anticipating an objection: you expect to get it, so why not address it now? In doing so, you help the prospect consider developing a preventative strategy to forestall a potentially costly delay. You could say something like, “I’m finding lately that several of my customers who start out enthusiastic and eager to make a purchase, as you are, go dark for a period of time before making their decisions. Do you think there’s a possibility that this could happen here? If so, what obstacles do you anticipate that could stretch this process out and cause you to miss your target date?”
3. ENCOURAGE THE PROSPECT TO CONSIDER AND CALCULATE WHAT THE COST WOULD BE OF MISSING THAT DATE (FINANCIAL AND OTHERWISE).
Calculating the cost provides you with the ammunition you need if you find the transaction dragging on. Remind the prospect of what he told you would be the cost of delaying, and in so doing, motivate him to get things moving again.
4. DETERMINE THE MILESTONES FOR YOUR PROSPECT’S BUYING PROCESS AND THE ASSOCIATED TIMELINE.
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