Stalled. Stuck. In limbo. On hold. No matter how you say it, when a once-promising (maybe even “sure thing”) deal seems to be going nowhere, it can be very frustrating! After all, you did everything right, didn’t you? You followed your organization’s proven sales processes to the letter in a solid and professional manner, but still nothing. The clock ticks. The crickets chirp.
So, how can you unstick that stalled deal? Read on:
You are not alone
Typically one-third to one-half of deals in your sales pipeline will stall out. It happens to the best of sales professionals and sales organizations. Of course, the real problem with stalled deals is that they still demand your time, your energy, and a significant emotional investment. They can gnaw at you and fill you with doubt about your abilities.
Where did you go wrong? Maybe nowhere. (After all, the best-laid plans often go awry.) But if mistakes were made, the most common mistake is not asking the kinds of questions that can illuminate the true status of the deal.
Ask the right questions
By asking the right questions at every stage in the evolution of a deal, you can minimize the likelihood of a stalled deal. Simple, right? Of course not. To know the right questions to ask, you must first understand these five common objections in the mind of the prospect – stated or unstated – that can stall a deal:
Possible objection #1: “I don’t see the value in your solution.”
Why it matters: You know your solution inside and out, but somehow the value that you know your product has is missed by your prospect. They believe the cost outweighs the benefit. If you haven’t clearly delineated the value of your solution in a way that shows clear and tangible benefit to your prospect, you will disappear from the proverbial radar screen of priorities.
Discerning question: “How do you believe our product will benefit you?”
Possible objection #2: “I don’t know why your solution is different or better than your competitors’.”
Why it matters: If you haven’t clearly differentiated your solution’s competitive advantages, you can’t stand out as a clear best choice. And if you can’t stand out on how your product will benefit, your prospect you’ll become a commodity and have to compete on price. Don’t let that happen!
Discerning question: “What criteria will you look at to make a decision on whom you choose?”
Possible objection #3: “I don’t have the authority to make this decision on my own.”
Why it matters: If you aren’t dealing with the decision maker, you’ll get no decision. Period.
Discerning question: “Is there anyone in addition to yourself who will be involved in deciding to move forward with our solution?”
Possible objection #4: “There’s too much risk involved in implementing your solution.”
Why it matters: No one likes to take risks if they can’t balance them with a substantial likelihood for reward. Risk requires moving beyond the comfort zone, even if the comfort zone is fraught with its own problems. In fact, your solution might be perceived as requiring a change in the personal dynamics of the organization, perhaps even letting people go. That is always painful, even if it is necessary.
Discerning question: “How would our solution impact you, your department and your organization?”
Possible objection #5: “I don’t think your solution truly impacts a critical business issue at this time.”
Why it matters: Even if all other objections are handled satisfactorily, you can’t sell a solution if it doesn’t solve a perceived critical business problem or satisfy a pressing want or need. On the other hand, your chances of making the sale are improved exponentially if you can position your sales offering as one that increases revenue, manages costs, improves quality, simplifies service, improves customers satisfaction, streamlines operations, and so on.
Discerning questions: “What are your most critical business challenges right now? Do you believe our solution solves one of those key business challenges?”
Be prepared to take “no” for an answer
Instead of just letting stalled deals “hang around”, you should actively seek answers that will create movement. The best answer, of course, would be, “Yes, let’s get started today.” Every other answer will, by degrees, fall short of that ideal. But frankly, even if the answer is an unequivocal “no,” you should see that as a positive. Instead of holding on to false hope, you are now free to dedicate your energies toward deals that actually have potential. What’s more, you liberate your prospect to let go of the dread they’ve probably been experiencing as they “duck and dodge” to avoid hurting your feelings.
Once you feel confident you have learned the objections and done all you can to overcome them, let the prospect know that it’s okay to say “no.” In fact, your stance might make such a positive impact that a “yes” might actually become more likely … when the time is right. In any event, you’ll be better positioned to gain referrals from this prospect due to your professionalism.
Want to learn more about how to unstick a stalled deal? Contact a Sales Xceleration Advisor today. They’ll be glad to help you create movement and identify your best sales prospects.