Have you been told by a customer, “this is not a priority for us at the moment?”
I have. Many many times. It’s not a fun thing to learn. Especially when you are counting on that deal coming in for the month, and being a large part of you hitting your quarterly bonus.
Our contact tells us (in the nicest way possible)
We no longer hear from our customer and our “assumptive” detective skills to explain their absence decide that they are just too busy at the moment.
Our contact strings us along by promising a decision to be made in only a matter of days (which ends up taking months)and we are then stuck in the “waiting place,” hoping they won’t forget about us
Over my years in sales I have learned the hard truth about when our deal no longer becomes a priority for the customer. It’s simply this:
Think about this for a moment. We are sales people. Our job is to create urgency. To get someone excited about our products or services and leading that excitement through the purchase, implementation and beyond.
If that excitement isn’t there, then I’m not doing my job right.
That’s the easy way to look at it though. I was lucky to have a strong sales management staff showing me how to sell at a young age. They instructed me on how to create urgency and the pitfalls that could lead to the sale no longer becoming a priority for the customer. I was taught the different ways to both create urgency, as well as how to diagnose why one of my current deals in a sale cycle might not be a priority anymore.
There are 3-areas to consider when evaluating the current deals you’re working on to identify if the sale is no longer a priority and, as a result, you could then apply the appropriate measures to create urgency once again in your sale.
Here are the 3-areas to look at if your deal is stalling:
This is the old need vs want thought process. You buy things you need (gas, food, shelter, internet, cell phones) without thinking. They are bought out of survival. Things you want, however, are not needed to survive.
Survival is the key word here. As a sales person, we need to identify how our products, or services are critical to their survival. We do that by asking great questions to understand the client’s goals and objectives, and then marry the success of those objectives to something only our product or service could guarantee.
Related Post: The How To Create Urgency With Your Deals
There are two realities here. One is that the customer is right, and they don’t need your product or service to achieve their goals. You would need to determine this in your evaluation. You would need to be able to logically justify your solution to their decision makers. Would you buy your product if you were them? If you don’t have a good reason or explanation, it makes sense that this isn’t a priority. Often we come to this conclusion by having happy-ear-syndrome, where we only hear what we want to hear from the client. This is a common listening skill set issue.
Food for thought here is, why is the customer entertaining your product or service then? Do they think this could be something that could contribute to their success down the road? Maybe you should ask them that question.
The other reality is that the customer is wrong. Your service is a 100% guarantee to impact their business and help them reach their business objectives. They just don’t see the connection. The number one reason for this outcome is your method of delivering the information. Did you provide them with proof through a test, trial, demo, relevant case study or testimonial? That must be part of your process.
However, I’m willing to bet your proposal is where your problem lies. Maybe you should have your manager take another look at it to see if it logically shares this story of how your offering is valuable and a contributor to hitting their goals.
It’s very possible that the decision was already made, or about to be made, and you didn’t win. In these situations your contact might not be thrilled to run and tell you the bad news.
Look, that’s OK that they made a decision to go with another vendor. With this information your sales manager could help you revitalize your deal if you just knew were you stood. We can’t move forward with a new strategy if we don’t know what’s going on.
Let’s consider a few things about why your contact might not want to tell you the bad news. First, you may have done a great job building the relationship with them and they are afraid of what could happen to it when they have to reject you to your face. That’s why in these situations we get a carefully worded email or a voicemail in the middle of the night so they don’t have to listen to the sound of our voice change when they destroy our chances of working together. That’s how they could be seeing it.
Another consideration is that the personality type of our contact might not be one who is comfortable with conflict. People have different personality types and that doesn’t get turned off in business. A large part of the support staff (could be your contact) has a supportive personality type. These are people who like to help. They like to be friendly and keep the world in harmony. The last thing they would want is to hurt someone’s feelings. In these situations, my strategy is to try to make it easy for these types of individuals to give me the bad news, so that we could move the sale cycle forward. Without the truth, we can’t figure out how to revise our strategy.
Related Post: Can Any Personality Type Be Successful In Sales?
Have you considered the fact that your contact could be acting upon their own accord and decision making? It’s possible they think this solution is important to their business but they have been researching and preparing their business case for their bosses. You could be just a part of that research project.
It’s in these situations we learn that they are months out from a decision. The truth here is because one of two reasons. One reason is your contact was just being proactive with their research to change things later on in the months ahead. In this situation, you should have discovered this reality early on in your sale cycle (preferably inside of the first appointment by asking great questions).
In the second reason, your contact isn’t ready to justify their case to the higher ups on why they need this solution. They are pushing out the decision for months because they could be writing a over-analyzed business paper on it to give them the confidence as they present it to their boss whom they could be afraid of a tiny bit. They are just trying to get a buffer out of you so you’re not calling them every single day adding extra pressure. The top sales professionals, in this case, make certain that their proposal is solid and builds the confidence and justification of the solution so your contact won’t need the time to develop it anymore.
I can hear you saying, “OK. What about that 1 time out of 10, Derek?” What are the cases where your sale really is not a priority?
When it comes down to it, from my experience, these are the only times I can understand that there is no urgency because of the client’s situation and not from something we failed to do on our side.
A key decision maker or influencer passes away
A key decision maker leaves their company (and they are hiring a replacement)
The business just suffered a huge financial loss
The owner is considering (retirement) closing the doors and shutting the company down
They are in the middle of an acquisition
If these are the reasons that happen, which is rare, I would accept that, be respectful, and then go find another opportunity to work on. If it’s not one of these 5 reasons, then I need to dive in and create that urgency.
It’s time to get serious.
You chose sales. Your job is to create urgency. Your job is to make your product or service a priority. It is normal for the clients to want to take back control of the sale cycle.
You don’t have something they actually need.
Your contact just doesn’t want to give you the bad news.
Your contact hasn’t informed the higher ups yet.
Don’t worry if one of the 3 areas happen to you. That’s all part of this sales game!
The top sales professionals out there are skilled at both creating urgency from the beginning, as well as diagnosing where a deal may be stalled. Start taking a no-judgement look at the deals you are currently “waiting on” and see if you could determine what barriers are holding them up.
Learn more techniques on how to create urgency inside of our Modern Sales Academy.