This strategy helps you prevent stalled deals, which I define as an opportunity in your pipeline or forecast that has not moved in the last 90 days. Stalled deals also include prospects who haven't replied to your emails or returned your calls in several weeks.
One of the best ways to prevent stalled deals is to become a decision maker’s Emotional Favorite™: The person they prefer to do business with.
Some people say that to be successful in sales you need to be liked, while others say you need to be trusted. I think you need to be both liked and trusted, as well as the person buyers know and want to see succeed.
There are two primary ways of becoming a decision maker’s Emotional Favorite. While you can get there with only one, it’s best to use both ways. That way you won’t be unseated by someone who comes along later and uses both.
Being More Known
Have you ever noticed that the more you have in common with a decision maker, the faster they return your calls, the easier the conversation is, and the more information you get access to -- all of which prevents stalled deals?
Being more known is all about having things in common with a decision maker. There are three levels of having things in common:
- Interests. What do you like to watch or do? Do you like sailing, camping, volunteering as a Cub Scout leader, or making ice and driving the Zamboni for the outdoor rinks in your neighbourhood? One really simple way to get to this information is to ask people what they did on the weekend. Once you have common interests, you can move to the next level.
- Values. Once you’ve identified common interests, you can talk about your values. For example, I value family, creativity, and persistence. Opening up about your values and getting your prospect to share theirs will deepen the emotional bond between you and lesson the likelihood of your ideas being shared with the competition.
- Aspirations. Once you have established common interests and values, it’s time to move to the highest level: shared aspirations. When you expose what you really want to accomplish in life, a decision maker is much more likely to share his or her aspirations as well. This accomplishes two things: 1) you’ve deepened the bond between you to the highest level, and 2) you know a prospect’s personal motivation for doing something and how you can help them win personally, not just professionally. Now you align your success with their success and almost anything is possible.
Think of it this way: Aspirations are what you really want to accomplish in life, values are the things you are not willing to give up to make those things happen, and interests are things you do along the way. To speed up the process, don't just sit around waiting to learn something about a decision maker. You have to make the first move, and then see if there is something in common you can build on.
Becoming More Valuable
The Emotional Favorite is the person a buyer calls first, regardless of what they need. Think about the last time you purchased a product or service. When you picked up the phone, did you call the person who helped you in the past? Did you seek out the person who adds value to your business or your career every time you ask for their assistance? Chances are you did. The fact of the matter is, most people do.
One of the best ways to be more valuable is to solve problems unrelated to what you sell. My preferred way of doing this is to end every phone call or meeting with questions outside of your existing sales-professional-to-buyer relationship, because by default, the decision maker will answer in terms of your products or services.
Start with something like, “Forget about what I do for ABC Company for a minute,” and ask:
- What is the biggest issue you have that you just can’t get to?
- What is the one thing you are looking for but can’t seem to find?
- What issue have you tried to solve but can’t find a satisfactory solution to?
Three Other Ways to Prevent Stalled Deals
Since this blog post is about four ways to prevent stalled deals, here are three other ways you can do that:
- The Sales Benchmark Index says that 58.1% of deals are lost to the status quo. So, whether you follow the SiriusDecisions Model of the loosening of the Status Quo, the SBI model of Stimulated, or my own model of the Window of Dissatisfaction, only chase deals where a trigger event has made the status quo no longer viable.
- Another major reason deals stall is that the prospect believes switching providers is too much effort, or the switching costs are too high. To overcome this obstacle, use this question: What can we do to make it easier to become our customer? Through this, you’ll learn how to minimize the effort or cost of switching to you. Before a prospect buys, they typically need to experience three different trigger events: 1) I want to change, 2) I can afford the time to look at what you sell and/or I have the money to buy it, and 3) I can justify the change to myself and others.
- In my opinion, lack of justification causes most deals to stall. To solve this problem you can use the RIPES model (Risk avoidance, Image, Productivity, Expenses, Simplicity) to help decision makers come up with numerous ways to justify their purchase.
Applying any of the four strategies above will help minimize stalled deals. Applying all four strategies will prevent them.
If you’re interested in other ways to prevent stalled deals I suggest checking out Tom Batchelder’s site StalledDeals.com. He’s been teaching his stalled deals strategies since 2007. There you’ll find his ebook on “Getting a Response to Stalled Deals” -- no registration required.
I’m intrigued by how salespeople treat their best customers differently. Maybe if we treated all our prospects the way we treat our best customers, we’d have an entire portfolio of best customers. Strive to become each and every decision maker’s Emotional Favorite, and you can make this a reality.
In my next blog post I’ll share the three best questions to ask an inbound lead.
P.S. Once you ask a prospect or customer a question, shut up and listen! When they stop talking, wait six seconds and listen to what they say next. First they’ll tell you about the problem. Then, if you don’t interrupt them, they will tell you how the problem impacts them and the rest of their organization. If after six seconds they don’t provide more detail, simply repeat the last two or three words they said with an inquisitive voice and they’ll provide more detail. Try it -- you’ll be amazed how well it works!