Unstick stuck dealsWe’ve all seen it. A new sales opportunity comes in. It’s big. It’s shiny. And it looks really good. Lots of excitement, lots of hope. The buyers want what you have, and the first meeting went really well. Another good one to add to the pipeline.

But, before too long, the deal slows down, buyers don’t respond as quickly, and meetings get delayed. Eventually the deal stalls altogether…and the buying team goes dark.

What just happened? I call it “Reality Valley,” a term we use when internal resistance overcomes deal momentum. Let’s take a look at the causes and steps you can take to unstick these opportunities and move them forward.

There are lots of potential causes for deals ending up in the Valley:

  • A change in priorities at the buying company
  • A key influential buyer changes roles or leaves the company
  • A political battle ensues – and your champion-buyer loses
  • And… other possibilities

But the vast majority of the time [say…over 80 percent] the cause is a weak business case. Meaning… the return on investment [ROI] argument has not been made clear. The buying team is not convinced the solution you are offering is worth pursuing over all the other things they have going, including staying with the status quo. The problem is not worth fixing—or they are not convinced the solution you are offering is going to make enough difference.

The result: they pass on the opportunity to fix or improve this part of their business and refocus their time on other issues. It may not be the right decision, but given the information and perception they have, they choose this direction.

Let’s look at some simple ways deliver a clear business case that gets buyers motivated to move forward.

Focus on outcomes, not capabilities.

Buyers aren’t considering your solution for its capabilities, they’re considering your solution for the business outcomes your capabilities can bring. So focus your value message on the outcomes you deliver.

Connect the dots completely.

Use a “From X to Y by Z” approach to really spell it out for them. “On average, we reduce the time sales reps spend searching for materials by 26 percent within six months.” They’re busy. They’re distracted. They have lots to do and not enough time. Don’t assume they can read between the lines and do their own math because they won’t.

Super-sharpen the outcome message.

Take the outcome message as far as you need to clarify the value. Here’s an example.

Value message:  “We give your sales 10 percent more selling time by reducing the time they spend searching for and assembling materials. And we can get you there in six months.”

Super sharpened message: “That’s like adding 10 percent more sales reps to your team, but without onboarding, training and ramp-up costs.”

Super-sharpening puts a point on the value spear. It lets buyers see the outcome and impact in crystal-clear terms.

Collaborate on the business case.

Tell your buyer champions you’re working on a business case for them. You have a few questions. Get them involved and collaborating with you on a business case document. Get their fingerprints all over it. They will feel ownership and quickly begin to own the business case, and usually parade it around the buying team.

So, we’ve covered some powerful actions you can take to clarify the business case and unstick opportunities mired in Reality Valley. Pick some good stuck opportunities and try it out. With any luck, you will have them moving out of the valley and up Sales Success Hill within a couple of months.