5 Reliable Ways to Escape Unexpected Deal Slippage
Most deals are lost weeks before you hear about it on a forecast call. A missed follow-up here and there, diversion from the prospect, and customer delays are a few of the many causes of deal slippage. Before you know it, you’re completely off-track from your sales process and you have lost out on the opportunity. Here are the top five things you need to think about to avoid unexpected deal slippage.
Build Your Sales Culture Around Your Customer’s Best Interests
A customer-centric sales culture is more than an impressive-sounding buzzword. The sales process, policies and even the individual mindset of each salesperson must align with what’s best for the customer. This type of experience is the key to standing out in markets that are saturated with dozens of providers, and even if you have a monopoly, you gain the benefit of developing a long-term customer base. Your biggest challenge for this step is to be prepared to deliver on your customer-centric promises. For example, if you promise a response within a timeframe and miss the follow-up deadline, you fail to live up to the expectations you established. Customers lose trust in your ability to meet their needs and look at other options.
Would you be willing to refer a prospect to another company if you knew that its solution was better suited to the prospect’s needs? That’s the level of dedication required.
Close Often and Close Early
Don’t get hung up on the initial deal size – just make it happen. The quick wins get your foot in the door, whether you go after a small deal that only involves one decision maker or you see the opportunity to land-and-expand. Once you get the customer over that trust threshold, you can focus your efforts on upselling other solutions. You encounter a lot less friction when you sell to people who already got plenty of value out of your products. If you want to expand to other lines-of-business in their company, you have a strong foundation to build from.
Ask the Hard Questions Early in the Sales Process
You don’t want to invest your sales team’s time and resources into prospects that are a poor fit with your organization. Not only could your team be working on other deals, but you’ll also end up providing a poor customer experience in the long run. Negative reviews, a low lifetime value and a lack of referrals can all have a significant impact on your revenue. It’s better to identify a poor match early in the process to save time for both parties.
The hard questions should be among the first things the sales team asks a potential customer. At the very least, you need to know if the prospect is actively looking for a new solution, whether the people you’re speaking with have the power to make a decision, and what their general timeline is. Once you have these answers, you can better allocate sales resources to high-value opportunities.
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Maintain Strict Standards for Every Deal with Momentum
When everything is going along smoothly with a deal, it’s easy to assume it will close as expected. However, situations can change rapidly, and treating a deal as good-as-done could result in unexpected slippage.
Once a deal starts to gain momentum, put basic requirements in place to keep it moving along at the same pace. Establish a process that makes it easy to perform the necessary follow-ups, so prospects don’t get forgotten. Keep the decision-makers involved in the sales cycle, and give them the right information at the ideal times to overcome objections, build rapport and find out exactly what they need to be able to say yes.
Understand What Gets Deals Done in Hard Times
If your sales team tries to wait for the perfect moment to reach out and get a guaranteed yes, this will likely extend the sales cycle significantly and make it difficult to get deals done in hard times.
Building a genuine rapport with the decision-makers can spell the difference between a deal that closes even under suboptimal conditions and one that ends up on the “not won” pile.
A prospect that has a strong connection with your company is not going to think about numbers being down or a new executive hampering the procurement process. Instead, such a prospect is going to remember the interaction at each touch point, any previous experiences with your products, and the staff members who are most hands-on in the relationship.
A solid relationship and the trust born from an authentically customer-centric sales process builds long-term loyalty that eliminates dry periods in your pipeline. When you take good care of your customers, they’re going to remember that, and it will have a bigger impact than a vendor offering a lower price or another incentive to replace their solutions.
Deal slippage can’t be eliminated, but your organization stands a good chance at reducing the causes behind it by following this guide. Looking at things from the customer perspective, a close-early mentality and the right process in place to support your customers will result in a more predictable sales forecast and a stronger sales pipeline.