There’s nothing more infuriating in sales than putting in the work, doing everything ‘right’, and watching a deal stall.
Most salespeople assume stalled deals are the cost of doing business, but they don’t have to be.
It turns out that stalled deals can be prevented before they happen! To find out how, we spoke with Steve Gielda, president and co-founder of Ignite Selling, Inc.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T-Trigger: According to Gielda, the key to preventing stalled deals begins before the deal stalls.
That begins with not making assumptions – because assumptions are one of the #1 causes of every stalled deal. We’ll cover which assumptions we shouldn’t be making below, but the trigger for ensuring less stalled deals is to ensure your discovery process addresses each of the below assumptions so that you can move forward in a sales conversation with certainty.
Steve says to not start with not assuming we know who is influencing any deal. That means taking the time to ask – and discover – all the potential influencers before we move too deep into sales conversations.
Second, Steve said to not assume we’re the only option on the table. Find out who else is being considered by your prospect, and what criteria the prospect is using to determine who they’re buying from.
Finally, Steve said to ensure you’re not assuming the decision makers feel the same way about you as they did when you first met. If you’re in an industry with a lengthy sales cycle or have a history with this prospect, check in to learn if their opinion of you/your company is still a positive one.
Ensuring those assumptions don’t occur will prevent a lot of stalled deals, but what happens if you discover a deal has stalled?
R-Repeatable: To make ‘unsticking’ a stalled deal a repeatable process, Steve says to check in with your key advocates. Find out why a deal is stalling or whose decision you’re waiting on.
Next, develop a plan to deal with those folks who are holding up a deal or with the people that aren’t in your corner. If you can’t change their minds, you’ll want to develop ways to ensure you’re seen in an even better light by your advocates.
Finally, learn (or better yet, re-confirm!) what business metrics your prospect will use to judge ROI and success. Those metrics may change in an lengthy sales cycle, so you’ll want to ensure you’re speaking to what your prospects care about today, not the assumptions you made based on last year’s data.
I-Improvable: To make this system improvable, Steve said to conduct win/loss analyses on your deals to determine if stalls occurred and what piece of the above system you were missing. Was it in your initial assumptions? Was it because of not keeping in contact with advocates, or being stalled by a detractor? Or was it not matching your solution against their up-to-date business metrics? Make changes in future sales conversations accordingly.
Of course, don’t limit your win/loss analyses to just lost deals. Steve said it’s just as valuable to look at the deals that flowed well to determine what you can replicate as a future best practice.
M-Measurable: Steve mentions two key areas to measure in a system designed to keep deals from stalling.
First, measure pipeline velocity. Are your deals ‘sticking’ at a certain stage? If so, those are areas to pay attention to for improvements in your research, outreach, and prospect communication.
Second, Steve said to measure the utilization of your product or service, because this will tell you how many advocates and detractors you actually converted in the sales process. If your customers are excited to use and benefit from what you sold them, you’ll know you sold against their key business metrics. If your utilization is low, you’ll know that your advocates likely pushed the deal through – a problem that will affect how much their organization benefits and how many referrals/testimonials you’ll receive.
Take the time to challenge your own assumptions, analyze where your deals are sticking, and focus on what really matters – providing value to your customers and growing your business.