I do deal reviews with sales people every week. Too often, I hear the same thing, “The customer is busy right now, they’ve asked me to call back in 30 days.” 30 days becomes 60, 60 becomes 90……
We keep those deals in our funnels. We won’t let go of them. We diligently follow-up at the appointed time, then reschedule for the next time, and time goes on.
We’re afraid to let them go, it took so many prospecting calls to find a customer willing to talk and consider us. So we’ll be polite and wait and wait and wait.
These deals are dead, we just won’t admit it to ourselves.
Deals die when there is no sense of urgency or motivation to change. It’s our job to create that sense of urgency—not because we need the order, but because the customer is losing something every day, week, month they defer a decision. Today, I was on a call with a good sales person. He had a “deal” with a very large account. It’s potential was larger than any other deal he had ever closed. He was “walking on egg shells” not wanting to do anything to screw up the opportunity.
Yet he’d been pushed off 5 times, for over 60 days! I asked about the value proposition. He’d done his homework and knew the adverse productivity impact was $60M per year. So in the time the customer had pushed him off, they had lost the opportunity to save $12M in improved productivity.
“Do they know how much money they are losing?” I asked.
“I’m not sure? I don’t want to pressure them. Plus, they are a multi-billion dollar company…….” he replied.
“$12 Million is a lot of money to anyone.” I said.
We’re afraid to rock the boat. We’re afraid the customer will stop talking to us. We’re afraid we will “kill the deal.”
No deal in which there has been no activity in the past 30 days is real! Deals are like fish, the longer they hang around, the worse they smell.
It’s our job to create a sense of urgency to get the customer to act and move forward. The best motivation is the opportunity they are losing–whether it’s to increase revenue, save money, improve productivity, improve customer satisfaction. It’s our job to make sure the customer understands the opportunity cost for waiting, for lingering in making a decision. They need to understand what they are losing.
Yes, many deals may have long sales cycles. But if there is real urgency behind the deal, every deal has activity which causes it to move forward. If there isn’t, then the customer has no sense of urgency. If we can’t create a sense of urgency, then the deal simply won’t happen and you might as well kill it rather than wasting your time and the customer’s time with follow-up phone calls, “Are you ready to meet yet?” (Always expressed in a pleading tone of voice.)
Look at every deal in your pipeline. Any deal in which there has been no activity for the past 30 days is immediately suspect. Find a way to light a fire under the customer or kill it. You have nothing to lose!