Are any of the opportunities in your pipeline stale? Do you have deals that you thought would close months ago, yet somehow they remain in your pipeline?
Most sales professionals suffer from challenges related to opportunities that never seem to close, or prospects that just don’t seem to take that final step. This challenge causes salespeople and managers to be terminated; it’s so common that many a company has failed because the supposed strong pipeline never materialized into revenue.
Good news. It’s time to stop suffering and start closing those deals. You’re about to discover the top 10 ways to accelerate a deal to close.
#10: Aggressive sales management.
It’s not ideal by any means and that’s why it ranks at the bottom of the list; but many a sales manager will proclaim that deals would never have closed if it weren’t for micro-management. (On a more upbeat note, sales contests and other sales rep incentives fall under this category, too).
#9: Customer incentives.
This, too, is a bit of a last resort because compressing the sales cycle by way of a fire sale typically only results in reduced profitability, not to mention the accompanying sales rep frustration and customer anguish.
#8: Gain a bona fide customer commitment to the timeline.
Granted, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and commitments are not always fulfilled. But galvanizing the key decision maker(s) to a timeline really does work wonders.
#7: Drive consensus of the management team.
Agreement does not always equate to action but having every stakeholder nodding “yes” is an important element if your solution involves a broader decision-making-unit. Solution-selling is complex; this stuff’s chess, not checkers. Not every decision maker has to say “yes,” but just about any one of them can say “no.” Getting everyone on the same page can be time-consuming and costly, but it does lead to agreement and action.
#6: Persistent follow-up. Ah, the basics.
Professional, value-based follow-up is magical. Out-of-sight is out-of-mind, so stay religious with your real opportunities, and you’ll reap the rewards of focused activity.
#5: Align the solution to a strategic objective.
Whether it’s at the departmental or corporate level, if your solution helps the company achieve their stated goals, chances are it’s closer to the fast lane. Even better, align it to an objective that is part of the decision maker’s compensation or bonus program.
#4: Expose a personal win (gain) for the key decision maker(s).
It’s important to understand the difference between a professional objective (see #5 above) and a personal objective. Uncovering the personal ambitions and desires of the individual(s) is a powerful method to get the customer to take action.
#3: Tie your solution to a market opportunity for the customer.
This means one of their customer’s requirements, or will enable your customer to provide an increased service level that will yield your customer (incremental) revenue, or shield your customer from losing (decremented) a current revenue stream.
#2: Demonstrate a strong return on investment (ROI) supported by customer data.
If the decision maker recognizes that the department or company is losing money by not implementing the solution, it begins to become a no-brainer to get moving sooner rather than later.
And finally, the number one way to get a deal accelerated to closure (and a big apology if you’re like most folks, and this simply does not apply to your model)…
#1: Tie your solution to a pending regulation or other impending event.
Granted this doesn’t affect most solutions, but nothing is more motivating for a company than an impending event, such as a new regulatory requirement that forces the company to act by a specific date.
Many of these recommendations relate to customer intimacy. Bear hug the customer, and they’ll not only tell you what the winning hand needs to be, they’ll tell you when to play which cards.
Whether you’re selling a product or a service, the reality is that the customer is not buying a product or a service. The customer is buying a solution to a problem. Zig Ziglar once talked about Home Depot selling one million 1/4“ drill bits per year. Yet, none of the customers actually wanted a 1/4“ drill bit; the customers all wanted 1/4“ holes. The same dynamics applies to your solution.
About the Author:
Don't Churn, Train! was written by Kevin Graham, managing director of Empowered Sales Training. Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on sales success. He’s been there / done that when it comes to hitting the number and his track record is well documented.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.