Stalled sales are undesirable, but nevertheless common in the B2B sales environment.
Prospects sometimes have a strong need or interest in the solutions you offer, but are hung up on making a commitment for one reason or another.
Understanding the challenges that a buyer faces when a sale stalls enables you to develop the right approach in trying to revive it.
Here are several areas to consider for improvement.
Get to Know Your Prospect More Deeply
I often talk about this. You need to get to know as much as possible about your prospect.
To understand the conflicts your buyer’s face, it helps to go more in-depth with your research.
Make an appointment to visit your prospect at their office.
This will allow you to discuss some of the issues your prospect has face-to-face and to become more familiar with their operation, processes and hurdles.
It also gives you an opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level.
Becoming acutely aware of the entire system and journey of a prospect puts you in a better position to empathise and build a relationship.
When you understand the problems your buyer’s face, you can more effectively explain how your solutions properly address them.
Start Small and Build Momentum
A brute force approach to reviving a stalled sale will likely cause a buyer to become more guarded and resistant.
Instead, backtrack a bit to recount smaller points of agreement.
Doing this allows you to build some momentum that may ultimately enable you to push through previous barriers that impeded the sale.
When you try to pressure, manipulate or coerce a buyer at the point of stall, it is virtually impossible to start over.
Good business is built on relationships.
When you show patience and empathy, you often have the ability to step back and put the wheels in motion again.
Sometimes, reviewing points of value will place a buyer in a more open frame of mind when it comes time to talk through key concerns or negotiate certain aspects.
Prepare for Concerns in Advance
When you prepare to address common concerns in advance, it is easier to put yourself in the mindset of a buyer when a sale stalls.
You can arm yourself with the right materials, facts, data and benefits to bring out when conflicts arise.
There is also an excellent chance that this is not the first prospect to raise a particular concern.
And there is a good chance one of your team-mates has come up against this before.
Make sure this knowledge is available to all of your team so that your sales people are not suddenly at a disadvantage.
Whatever you do, do not try to wing it if you do not have the answer to a particular question or concern.
If you are not sure, say you are not sure, make a written note of it along with a verbal commitment to finding out.
In general, if a buyer delays a commitment when the need is obvious, it is because he doesn’t yet have the information necessary to agree comfortably.
As you handle concerns, you get more familiar with common hang-ups.
A proactive strategy helps you avoid a complete setback, and instead turns a stall into a momentary need for a review of value.
Ask Many Questions
Even with preparation, it’s hard to know what is going through the mind of a buyer.
When a sale stalls, ask a lot of questions.
Probe surface-level concerns to gain a deeper understanding of the real conflicts impeding a commitment.
In some cases, you may even have to offer up your concerns or those you might have as a buyer in your industry.
You might say, for instance, “One concern I’d have is whether I’m going to get complete technical support and assistance after purchase. Is that an issue for you?”
Making yourself vulnerable can enhance trust and openness from the buyer.
It will also allow you to utilise the experiences of previous sales you have completed.
An option I’ve taken in the past during a particularly difficult negotiation is to discretely mention a trusted client who is a reference for me by saying, “Yes, James who is the CIO of Bob’s Widgets Inc. had a similar concern. Would you find it useful to speak with him?”
In consultative, value-added selling, concessions aren’t always ideal.
It is important to maintain the integrity of your value, and I prefer to use other methods.
However, some organisations do enable reps to make some concessions on price, payment terms or solution features.
Make sure your reps know what they can (and cannot) do so they aren’t left feeling uncertain when a sale stalls and all other strategies have been exhausted.
While several approaches are possible to revive a stalled deal, the most important thing is that your sales people show empathy and sell value – from you, your solution, and your company.
Rebuild momentum by focusing on agreement rather than conflicts.
Your confidence is key in the sales game, and people can sense it – high or low – when dealing with you, so if the sale is not going as planned, don’t get down-hearted about it.
In rare situations, a concession may attract a long-term buyer.
And if not, then don’t ever be afraid to walk away from a sale.
Learn from it and move on.
Are you interested in connecting with the right prospects at the right time to reduce the instances of stalled sales?