There are three possible outcomes for every sales call:
- The best is the sale closes or moves forward
- The second is no decision is made (a.k.a, stalling), and
- The worst is the sale is lost.
Prospects who stall
Salespeople may accept some responsibility for losing a sale, but they are reluctant to accept blame for prospects who fail to make a decision. Their excuse is that they can’t do anything about prospects who stall. They forget that losing a deal to “no decision” is still a loss.
Why they stall
Why do prospects choose to do without a product or service or remain with a current supplier who offers less value than a possible replacement?
Here are the leading reasons why prospects start stalling:
- They don’t believe they have a problem or believe it’s not serious enough to do anything about.
- They’re confused with too much information or too many technical terms. Excess information makes things too complicated for prospects. Using technical terms in an effort to “speak” the prospect’s language can delay or deter buying decisions.
- They feel the salesperson is confrontational rather than consultative. When they feel challenged and pressured, prospects usually move into the “no decision” category. When salespeople are too aggressive, their only goal is to share what’s important to them – closing the sale.
- They fail to trust the salesperson. Trust is the key ingredient in selling today. Prospects are bombarded with so much conflicting and contradictory product information, the element of trust is indispensable. They trust salespeople who listen to what they have to say, especially when it comes to needs and expectations.
- Salespeople procrastinate. Salespeople who wait for things to happen, instead of taking action, are a major cause of stalls. They wait for a callback from a prospect, wait until a proposal is developed, wait for a quote or wait for a decision. This waiting wastes time and leads to stalls. Selling is an active profession, not a passive one.
Create interest immediately
If you don’t create interest with a prospect immediately, you run the risk of ending up in the “no decision” pool. Here are four tips that will help move the sale to the next step:
- Make a short opening statement. Your goal is to start a dialog rather than a one-sided discourse. Try to establish who you are, why you’re there, and why the prospect should be interested in what you have to say.
- Ask questions that will help you pinpoint their problems and your opportunities. You can’t assess the prospect’s real needs without having an understanding of the problems involved. Establish your role as the seeker of information and the prospect’s role as the provider of information. This is the most critical stage. You can’t close business without understanding the prospect’s issues.
- Let prospects do most of the talking. The more they talk, the better you will understand their needs. Listen carefully to their responses, trying to uncover unrecognized problems and coming up with unanticipated solutions.
- Avoid offering solutions until you have an understanding of prospect needs. The more a salesperson knows upfront, the more comfortable prospects feel in exchanging sensitive business information. Summarize or re-emphasize key points. Then propose an action that advances the sale to a successful close.
You can’t count on prospects to recognize the value you offer. Prospects will almost always have a less-than-comprehensive grasp of their situation or the problems they should be solving.
Ask yourself two questions before you attempt to offer solutions:
- Do the prospects know the true cost of the absence of your solutions?
- Do your prospects understand the problems your solutions are designed to resolve or the risk they will be exposed to without your product or service?
Top sales professionals bring clarity to their prospect’s decision process. They know how to translate the company’s value proposition into a value life cycle that’s customized and confirmed for each prospect. Their ability to translate value proposed to value achieved for prospects results in exceptional closing success.