Customers expect a solution that not only quantifies the value of technology, but also integrates that value with the economics of the solution in a way that resonates with multiple stakeholders in their organization including business and financial buyers. Creatively structuring deals, overcoming customer objections, and reinforcing the comprehensive value of a solution is why many of our clients rely on our expertise to help them grow sales and perfect related execution. But what happens when a client is truly not interested in buying, no matter how compelling your solution may be? Is there a more efficient way to identify non-buying signals sooner so you can be more effective in sales?
Helping sales teams properly qualify their deals is a big part of TFP’s DNA and an important part of the sales cycle. As we enter 2017, I would like to take a moment to focus on deal qualification—in particular, how to maximize your time by embracing rejection and getting to “no” faster.
As sales professionals, we are naturally competitive so it is often difficult to walk away without a win. But, at what point do our attempts to prolong a proposal become counterproductive to reaching our sales goals? Are we missing other opportunities by spending too much time iterating on the same client proposal? How are we to know when it is better to move onto more interested and qualified prospects? I firmly believe it is better to get a quick no, than a slow maybe.
Here are five ways to better qualify your opportunities for a more efficient sales cycle:
- Clearly communicate your ask
Have you properly communicated the value of your solution with a clear, persuasive, and transparent business case? Does your proposal include compelling reasons to buy now? Does your client clearly understand what you are specifically asking of them? In addition to conveying the value of your solution, it is important for you to set proper expectations and clearly communicate what you are wanting in return from your client.
- Set a firm, but mutual timeline and agree to next steps
Always set a deadline for a decision and be prepared to defend it with a rational sense of urgency. Have your client help you layout an agreed upon timeline (who needs to do what and by when), as they will likely feel more invested about working toward a close date with you. Be clear on what documentation is required and when feasible, proactively share draft copies to promote early engagement from the customer’s legal resources.
- Follow up and acknowledge a non-response
Be sure to follow up and use the mutual timeline to point back to the agreed upon next steps. If a customer goes silent, acknowledge it and politely provide them with an “out”. This takes a bit of finesse, but it if done correctly, both parties will benefit from it. Here is an example: “I want to thank you for all your consideration and realize timing may not be optimal for you at the moment. Can I assume a pass on the proposal for now?” Providing the customer with a courteous way out may be the best way to illicit a response if they have gone silent for a while. Additionally, it will allow you to protect future deals by preserving the amicable relationship.
- Be careful not to confuse an “Objection” with “Rejection”
If a client decides not to buy, be sure to ask probing questions to get a full understanding of their rationale. Do your best to sift through the information to determine if there may be an alternative way to position the deal that would better demonstrate value. By doing this, customers will find out if their pain point(s) can be remedied now or in the future. Do not beat a dead horse, but make sure not to confuse an “objection” with “rejection.”
- Move on
While this step may seem rather simplistic, it can often be one of the most difficult things to do as a sales professional. However, it is vital to your success to know when to walk away from a prospective deal if the client is clearly not showing buying signals. You can always circle back at a later time, but now is the time to focus on finding that next “yes.”
Driving a prospect to a decision is not always easy to accept if that decision is “no,” but helping them get there faster can help you eliminate unproductive cycles. By effectively asking the right questions and clearly communicating mutual expectations, you can hopefully weed out those low percentage deals and redirect your precious time on more qualified opportunities. Cheers to 2017 and do not be afraid to embrace the rejection and get to the no faster! After all, it is really one step closer to the next “yes.”