Is your customer/prospect engaged in their buying process? You may be so focused on your own sales process that you ignore the very thing that will determine if a deal closes or not. Time is money. So, at some point, you must learn to recognize the tell-tale signs that your customer/prospect IS actively engaged in their buying process, and signs that they are NOT. And, you’ll have to decide when enough is enough. Usually, it’s when deals start cascading month to month, quarter to quarter – and ultimately fail to close.
Deals that Just Won’t Close
The big sales deal that you thought would blow your quota away is not closing. Your customer/prospect is not giving you information about their specific business objectives or project timing. They tell you that if they tell you this information, then they will “have to kill you” or give up negotiation leverage.
So, you continue to slog through. You keep taking them to lunch and ask for more meetings. You continue to tell your management that this deal will close. You continue to bring in your best and brightest resources to convince the customer/prospect of why they should buy. What is wrong with this picture? The customer/prospect is not engaged in their buying process.
Deals that Do Close
If your customer/prospect sees you as a vendor who is just selling them something, rather than providing value, then the above scenario makes sense. You are selling them what your management is telling you to sell them. Or you believe they could benefit from your products and services, but you just can’t get the momentum.
We have all seen this ton of times. But think about it. What typically occurs in deals that you DO close? Key stakeholders at your customer/prospect are engaged in their buying process and pushing you steadily through your sales process. Wait, what?
Clear Signs of Engagement
When I talk to any salesperson or sales manager, they highlight the one thing that typically happens in deals they close: there is active engagement with their customer/prospect. Below are some typical, clear signs that a deal has momentum resulting from that level of engagement:
- They’ve identified a need or you’ve successfully inspired them to see how your products and/or services will help them achieve a key deliverable or KPI
- Their executive management is more than willing to share details on goals and objectives and understands you need this information to help them
- They see the project as a top priority that has usurped other projects – ensuring budget is available since this is so critical to their success
- They have a specific timeline they want to hit since getting the desired business outcome is key to how they are measured
Now, I could go on but I think you get the point. Your customer/prospect needs to be engaged in their buying process – at the right level in their organization. The more you can solve priority business needs high up in the management hierarchy, the larger the deal. That’s because the business outcome tends to be greater, and therefore, the sales cycle is shorter.
When Enough is Enough
Take a close look to see if and at what level your customer/prospect is engaged in their buying process. If it’s not there, then your deal will most likely never close when you want it to. Your forecasting goes out the window since you are basing it on what you and your management need rather than what the customer/prospect wants. So, the deal cascades from quarter to quarter, robbing time from you and your team. When this happens, ask yourself: Is enough, enough?
Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter