Un-Sticking Sales Stuck in Reality Valley


Un-Sticking Sales Stuck in Reality Valley


We’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 goes really well. Another good one to add to the pipeline.

But, before too long, the deal slows down. Buyers aren't responding as quickly, and meetings get delayed. Eventually, the deal stalls altogether… and the buying team goes dark.

What just happened?

You've taken a detour into Reality Valley – that desolate pit stop you find yourself pulling into when internal resistance overcomes deal momentum. 

So, what causes this holdup? And how do you get things moving again?

There are a number of potential causes for deals getting stuck in the Valley:

  • The buying company undergoes a shift in priorities.
  • A key influential buyer changes roles or leaves the company.
  • A political battle ensues, and your champion-buyer loses.
  • And the list goes on. 

But the vast majority of the time

[say, over 80%], the sticky culprit is a weak business case. This means that the return-on-investment [ROI] argument has not been clarified and driven home. In other words, the buying team is not convinced of some critical factor necessary to make the deal happen:

  • The buying team is not convinced that their problem is worth fixing – i.e., their pain is not acute enough to realize they have a problem
  • The buying team is not convinced that the solution you're offering will make enough of a difference.
    • The buying team is not convinced that the solution you're offering is worth pursuing over solutions they already have in place – i.e., the status quo wins out.
    • The buying team is not convinced that the solution you're offering is worth pursuing over other solutions out there in the market – i.e., the competition wins out.

What happens next?

A whole lot of nothing: They pass.

The buying team passes on the opportunity to fix or improve this part of their business – and, instead, reallocate their time and resources toward other issues, projects and/or business relationships. It may not be the right decision, but given the information they have and the resulting perception/conclusion, this is the decision they've made. 

Let’s look at four strategies to deliver a clear business case that gets buyers motivated to move forward.

1. Focus on outcomes, not capabilities.

Buyers aren’t considering your solution for its capabilities – they’re considering your solution for the business outcomes that your capabilities support. So focus your value message on the outcomes you deliver.

2. Connect the dots completely.

Use a “From X to Y by Z” approach to really spell it out for the buying team. Why? They’re busy. (Like you are.) They get distracted. (Like you do.) They have lots to do and not enough time. (Sound familliar?) Don’t assume they can read between the lines and do their own math, because they won’t. So do the work for them, and connect the dots completely. For example: “On average, we reduce the time sales reps spend searching for materials by 26% within 6 months.” 

3. Super-sharpen the outcome message.

Extrapolate the outcome message as much as necessary to truly clarify its value. Here’s an example:

Value message: “We give your sales 10% 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% more sales reps to your team... but without onboarding, training and ramp-up costs.”

Super-sharpening the message strengthens your value spear. Buyers are now understanding your solution (and the outcomes it supports) in a way that makes sense to them and makes sense for their business. 

4. Collaborate on the business case.

Tell your buyer champions you’re working on a business case for them, and you have a few questions. Get them involved and collaborating with you on a business case document. Encourage their questions and opinions, and get their fingerprints all over it. This is how you get them to feel ownership over the business case; it's no longer just an abstract deal with a faceless firm. This is how real champions are born – the ones who take your deal to the buying team with a sense of responsibility, a well-informed argument and a whole lot of passion.

We’ve covered four powerful methods to clarify your business case and unstick those frustrating opportunities mired in Reality Valley. Now it's time to take some action: Select a few stuck-ortunities and try jumpstarting them with one, two, three or all four of the aformentioned strategies. Pretty soon, you'll be climbing out of the Valley and shaking off that stagnant-sale stench. 

By Accent Technologies

4th March 2015