Friday 23 March 2018

How to avoid saying goodbye to that sale

IN THESE tough economic times, spare a thought for salespeople. It's their job to get people to spend in an environment where almost everything else -- from the limited availability of credit to the turmoil in international markets -- is telling them to save.

Deals can stall suddenly. Salespeople often struggle to understand what's happening. The seller can feel helpless -- should an attempt be made to revive the deal, or should they come to terms with its loss and move on?

Re-igniting a stalled deal is slow and time-consuming. It's important to assess the causes and to understand if they can be addressed.

1. Some requirements of the organisation's buying process have not, or cannot, be met.

2. Some aspect of the justification or rationale for the purchase does not stack up. The bottom line is that the rationale for the purchase is not sufficiently clear or compelling.

3. One or more key stakeholders have not offered the project their full support, or the project lacks a powerful sponsor.

It takes a particular skill to re-ignite a deal. Typically, the seller's features and benefits won't do it. Even a reduction in price may not be enough.

The seller who wants to re-ignite a stalled deal must also help the buyer to build the rational economic justification for the purchase, tick all the boxes in terms of the buyer's internal buying process and address any misunderstandings, conflicts or concerns on the part of key stakeholders.

Most importantly, the seller needs to work on the inherent momentum of the deal. They need to demonstrate why a decision is in the best interests of the buyer, or buying organisation at this time. As sellers, we often see the buyer's decision as the choice between competing suppliers.

In an era of budget cuts and scarce resources, the real competition is another project, a decision to do it in-house or to do nothing at all. Communicating a competitive advantage over other suppliers is not nearly enough.

Behind most buying decisions is a more fundamental business decision.

The seller must work on the compelling reason (a business case) not just to buy, but to buy now.

The business case addresses the five key levers of the buying decision, including:

1. Costs and benefits.

2. Risk (financial, technical, project, supplier).

3. Strategic fit (how the decision stacks up against competing projects, fits with other goals or strategies).

4. Compliance.

5. Politics.

The seller must be able to communicate, even calculate, the implications for the buyer of a stalled or scrapped buying decision.

Sellers are not helpless in the face of a stalled deal. The deal can be re-ignited by helping the buyer to build that compelling business case for the purchase.

John O'Gorman is a global figure on selling to professional buyers and is a director of ASG Group, a sales consulting and training company.

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