Why Deals Stall

Why Deals Stall

Salespeople regularly consult with prospects and deliver product demonstrations to them. All too often though, salespeople engage in unscripted discovery and launch into a bumper-to-bumper, vanilla demo, leaving the prospect both agitated and unsatisfied. Or, the salesperson provides the prospect with a demo, but subsequently blames them for being unresponsive or not having urgency to move forward. In both scenarios, the problem is often that the salesperson does not understand the prospect’s critical business issue.

Most prospects have business issues that they face every day, which they do not do anything about; e.g., their company’s accounting system does not support bi-annual payments for customers. These prospects are willing to live with the issue (status quo) until manually managing bi-annual payments becomes untenable. Many sales opportunities fall into this category. The prospect has a business issue (pain), but it is not critical (severe) enough to cause change. The result is salespeople invest unnecessary time and resources on the wrong prospects.

Critical means 1) being potentially disastrous at the point of crisis or 2) having essential importance to the success or failure of something. In other words, does the prospect’s pain hurt enough for them to change their current behavior? Critical business issues cause change, business issues do not. Establishing the prospect’s critical business issue is imperative because without a compelling reason to change, they will continue to do things the same way. Competing with the status quo is often more difficult than competing with tradition competitors.

What is a critical business issue? A critical business issue is an opportunity or problem that is essential to the overall success of an organization. The issue is essential enough that the prospect is willing to allocate time, people and money to address or solve it. Critical business issues are often 20% of an organization’s opportunities or problems that impact 80% of its immediate future. Examples include: decreasing profits, missing new customer opportunities, regulatory compliance deadlines, etc. The common denominator is often money.

Salespeople calling on technical prospects tend to focus on a critical technical issue (CTI) and associate it with the problem to be solved. A CTI, while important, is only one part of the equation. Understanding how a CTI is linked to the critical business issue will directly speak to the decision maker from a ROI perspective. For example, the company’s accounting system does not integrate with a large customer’s payment portal. How much time will the accounting department spend manually sending invoices? Etc. Link the CTI with the critical business issue.

Salespeople must understand the prospect’s critical business issue and the capabilities needed to solve it. During the demo, the salesperson should then show the capabilities needed in priority order with a highly contextualized and customized narrative based on the prospect’s industry, title, etc. This is much different than showing a bumper-to-bumper, vanilla demo to the prospect. If you do not know the prospect’s critical business issue and the capabilities needed to solve it, how do you know what to show them in the demo?

All contents copyright © 2017, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


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