Posted by Mike Carroll ● Thu, Apr 16, 2009 @ 14:04 PM

Delayed Closings In Pipeline

The current economic environment creates the perfect opportunity for prospective customers to press the pause button and delay your sales process. Common excuses include:


•We have a spending freeze
•All new projects on hold
•We are cutting back
•It's difficult to get approval
•We have other priorities
•It's not in our budget
•Our budget was cut

Usually when a salesperson runs into stalls, put-offs and delays it's because they have not done an effective job asking questions. The most common mistake we see salespeople make is presenting a solution too quickly. As soon as they see a problem or hear a pain, they immediately jump up and down and say "we can solve that!" They then proceed to talk all about their solution and how wonderful it is. Sound familiar?

The trouble with this approach is you have not spent enough time listening to the prospect and uncovering ALL the issues involved. Many times the first issue raised isn't even the real issue, but just a symptom. Only by continuing to ask questions will you understand the full picture of the prospect's situation. And this puts you in a much better position to help them.

How many issues should you uncover? We coach our clients to find at least six issues or "compelling reasons" before presenting a solution. But even finding six issues is not enough; you also need to let the prospect tell you the consequences of those issues. And when it comes to uncovering the consequences, the more detail you can uncover the better. When you find an issue or problem, consider asking the following questions to get more detail:


•What is this costing you?
•What impact is this having on your operations?
•What could you do with those resources if this were not a problem?
•What is the cost of not fixing this?
•Who is responsible for this?
•How long has this been a concern?

If you follow this approach and slow down long enough to find six to eight compelling reasons for the prospect to look at your solution AND you uncover the consequences of not addressing those reasons, you'll be in a much stronger position when the prospect decides to press pause on your sales process.

Why? Because you can go back and review the issues - their issues - and highlight the consequences - their consequences - of not acting. Then you can ask them what has changed and why these issues are no longer a problem. If you skip this step and try to present a solution at the first sign of a problem you can solve, it's easy for a prospect to delay your sales process and make you wait. Remember, do not talk about your solution until you have at least six issues identified.

Is your sales team capable of asking enough questions to find six to eight compelling reasons to move forward? Do they have what it takes to sell in a down economy? To find out, take our Free Sales Force Grader.  It only takes a few minutes and will give you immediate insight into how your sales team measures up.

 


Topics: Closing, pipeline

Comments