Far too often sales people, particularly those new to sales, have a tendency to relax after they have received a verbal ‘Yes’ from the prospect and assume that the sale is nearing completion. BIG MISTAKE!
What many sales people fail to recognize is that an impending sale is most vulnerable after the prospect has said OK, and that getting to ‘yes’ is where it starts. There is still a lot of work ahead to finalize the sale, and a few hurdles to overcome, before you break out the champagne.
Let’s talk about what’s headed your way, so you can address these challenges before they derail the sales celebration.
The first major hurdle to prepare for is buyer’s remorse. Buyer’s remorse can be a huge obstacle to overcome, particularly in the current economic climate. Decision-makers and their staff members are overworked and stretched to the limit, so making a buying decision on any new project just means more work for the staff, and less budget dollars available for other things. And even if it is the right decision, there will still be elements of doubt that creep in … did I get the best deal, did I select the correct supplier, etc.? How will you overcome buyer’s remorse and keep the sales train on the tracks?
The second major hurdle is the competition. Once it gets out that the customer has decided to go with another supplier, competitors will be in the full attack mode with counter-proposals, price reductions, new bundled offers, etc. in an effort to subvert the decision. Both direct and indirect competitors will be coming to the feeding trough with new and improved proposals in an effort to redirect those budget dollars to them. How will your proposed solution stand up against these counter-attacks by the competition?
The next major hurdle is what I refer to as “friends and family members” that lurk in the halls of the executive offices. When your proposal starts to receive attention at the leadership level then questions and challenges will surface from all vested parties such as, “have you solicited three competitive bids” and the more obvious, “I have a close friend that provides similar services …” How will your proposal stand-up to this added scrutiny?
What do you need to do to ensure that the verbal ‘Yes’ you obtain from the prospect converts to a closed sale and a satisfied new customer?
The first thing to do is to prepare for these roadblocks and challenges in advance as a part of your pre-sale planning. Have a response to these risk contingencies to keep the sale headed in the right direction. Next, stay engaged with the decision-makers throughout the selling process and reaffirm the benefits of your proposed solution at each stage in order to build the consensus necessary to overcome the expected hurdles and ensure a positive outcome.
Finally, recognize that getting to “Yes” is a good start and in the next stage a signed contract is a rite of passage and nothing more, because no value has transferred at this point in the sales process. The real value comes from implementing the proposed solution, assuring customer satisfaction, and building a positive long-term relationship with your new customer that leads to future sales and referrals.
Once you have done all of the above extraordinarily well, and demonstrated the differentiated value of your services, then it’s time to celebrate with your customer!
COPYRIGHT © 2011 John Carroll