You represented yourself and your product/ service well. The prospect wants it. They told you they need it. You know they can benefit from it. You bragged about this one being a slam dunk in last couple pipeline reviews.
Now, the prospect has gone dark. Your estimated close date has come and gone (twice). What the heck? You know your sales manager is gonna ask about it next review period. What could you have done about it? Where did it go wrong? Great questions to ask. However, there’s a chance it wasn’t you. Read on:
Blog 6 of 7
Over the last few weeks we have been discussing the six sales imperatives- Things that simply don’t change because in sales because they are so important to customers. This week’s is dedicated to learning why we must help buyers buy. Just selling to them is not enough. Unfortunately, internal complexity, matrix management, and more collaborative workplaces have changed the way people buy. It changes the way people get approval to buy. If you are unclear about the hoops your prospects must go through in order to make an approved purchasing decision there may be a whole bunch of ‘behind the scenes’ blockers you aren’t even thinking about. If you want to make that sale, you’ll have to help your prospect navigate their own internal buying process.
A recent study by CEB (now Gartner) showed that the average number of buyers involved in a sale went from 5.4 in 2015 to 6.8 in 2018. If you’re in B2B sales, you’ve probably experienced this trend, much to your chagrin. Not only does selling to a team take longer, but it’s more likely to stall out and end in no decision.
If bringing others in is likely to delay a company’s initiative–or worse, stop it in its tracks–why would your prospect involve others at all? You might think your prospect would be motivated to push through a purchase on their own. Why the increase in team buying?
Never lose alone. Making a large investment of company dollars is risky. If the initiative fails, your prospect doesn’t want to be the one holding the bag by alone. It’s easy to fire one person, but it’s not easy to fire the entire team of leaders that collectively made a bad decision. Safety in numbers.
Another reason for involving others is to increase the likelihood that the initiative will succeed once the purchase has been made. If a decision is made by a single leader, but it impacts many departments, the others will likely feel like the change was thrust upon them. They are more likely to be resistant, or prioritize that decision behind the initiatives and purchases they were pursuing on their own.
What does this mean to you?
Oftentimes purchases are delayed because the person that first sets out to find the solution doesn’t know who should and should not be involved. They may invite peers into the process, even if the initiative only has tangential impact on their departments.
Another reason the deal slows or stalls out is because an entire group has a hard time coming to consensus. It’s easy to agree to not move forward. It’s difficult to agree to making an investment.
Chances are this could be a new team, and they are purchasing this service for the first time. Do they all agree now is the time? What must be in place for it to be a go? What happens internally once your prospect makes a decision? Who else must see it? What are deal-breakers for each stakeholder? What features are must-haves versus nice-to-haves? Can you help them come to agreement about how they come to agreement?
To truly be a trusted advisor, this is a valuable place to advise. You know your product and the stakeholders that should be involved in the buying decision. You know which departments and roles will be impacted by making this change. You can help them bring the right team together.
Whether they decide on you, a competitor, or working with what they’ve got, they need to agree, believe in it enough to move forward, and to hold themselves and each other accountable. Look for ways to offer help and advice. Remember, you are the pro here. You’ve seen many of these deals. You likely already have valuable insight that can help your prospect buy. Call them and offer it up. Maybe then you’ll have some good news to share in your next pipeline review.
If you’d like to see the rest of the series or read more blog posts from The WinSource, you can find them here.
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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!