My Prospect Slapped Me In The Face

perfect-closeNot literally… but based on the Ah-Ha Moments I’m about to share with you, it’ll make more sense. I’ve been in a few deals this year that are larger than your typical HCM technology deals. One opportunity in particular kept me up at night. I’ve gone through the sales process (twice), showed them the product (three times), provided a cost matrix and even discounted heavily. Then, out of nowhere, the prospect tells me they won’t be making a change for at least 12 months. My jaw hit the floor… I did everything humanly possible to win their business and it only bit me in the butt.

I did what every salesperson has done in their life… I was executing ‘continuations’ through out my sales cycle and not ‘advances’.

“An advance is a significant action that requires energy by the client — either during the call or right after it — that moves the sale toward a decision.

continuation is a situation where the sale will continue yet no specification has been agreed upon by the customer to move forward.”[note]Page 58[/note]

Ultimately, the fault comes back to me, the salesperson for not having the prospect put enough skin in the game. I thought, based on their reaction and continuing the process, I was making great progress. Boy was I wrong… and it hurt! I let my cycle get in the way of asking the buyer, throughout the process, how their buying cycle was coming along…

“We must always remember that despite our sales cycle, the buyer has their own buying cycle. Ignoring their buying cycle and focusing only on the steps of your sales cycle may cause you to invest your time unwisely.”[note]Page 74[/note]

You can say that again! I got a little excited about being part of a big deal where the outcome was in my favor… at least I thought so. No other competitor was being brought to the table. It was just me against the incumbent and it was mine to lose. Looking back, once upper management switched the CFO, half way through the process, I should have stopped the process instead of throwing myself further into the opportunity. I had already devoted so much time with the company, what’s another few hours to do everything all over again?

Being overly optimistic has a way of kicking myself every once in a while. Thinking I could catch the new CFO up to speed and get them in my good graces was one of those times.

“The trap I repeatedly see professionals fall into is wasting huge amounts of time on prospective business that will never close because they have misjudged curiosity and interest (and sometimes simple politeness) as indicators of good sales opportunities.”[note]Page 92[/note]

Once I read this part, I texted James… Ya, we text 😛 He gave me some reassurances, which made me feel better. But man, time is such a valuable asset. If you’re reading this right now, I’m sure you’ve felt the same pain at some point in your career. It sucks. I have the absolute best intentions when I meet with prospects and clients. Everything I do is for the greater good of our partnership. I’ve done everything I can to portray this in my partnerships and when they give up on me/my company, it hurts.

Adding value has been a HUGE talking point through out my first year of writing, talking and teaching.

“It is critical that we add value on every single sales encounter. This is a relatively new development in selling. Twenty years ago it was not as importation that sales people deliver anything beyond information about their products and services. Because of the internet all of that has changed. It is now vital that we make the sales experience itself valuable for clients.”[note]Page 105[/note]

If you haven’t figured that out by now, you’re definitely behind the ball. There are many consumer review sites, most people are on LinkedIn or social media and word of mouth is extremely powerful in a condensed area or territory. If someone has had a bad experience, there’s a good chance someone else will have a free ear to listen.

Finding ways to differentiate yourself from other companies and other sales professionals is important to stay ahead of the curve. Always providing value is a MUST today!

Long Story Short; Because I didn’t make the prospect ‘have any skin in the game’, they were able to walk away from the buying process without even blinking an eye. It felt like a slap in the face because I’d bent over backwards for 6 months and nothing came of it. It might be hard… but don’t always be a giver. Make the prospect give you something in return. Ya, they might say you… but then you can determine how serious they are about working with you.


There’s definitely more from me to come!

The Perfect Close by James Muir

Don’t Get Deleted! | Snap Selling

Photo Apr 19, 09 38 44 (1)Day in and day out, salespeople are always looking for different ways to get in front of their future clients. Being in the information age, we want value immediately! If the subject line of an email sucks; boom, deleted. If a voice message starts out boring; boom, deleted. You’ve only got a few seconds to capture someone’s attention… so you have to make it count.

“Here’s what you need to remember: Your prospects read your e-mails with their finger on the Delete key. They listen to you voice mails with their finger on the Delete key.”[note]Page 62[/note]

The majority of your prospects are inundated with multiple sales calls and sales emails a day. Why should they listen to you? Why should they care? What do you have to offer that is so different than what they’re already doing?!

Value… You’ve gotta give ’em value. “Well Jordan, you make it sound so simple.”

It is and it isn’t. You need to catch their attention and spark their interest but in a way where you’re not talking about your service/product. You’ve got to personalize your approach… and sometimes that can be time consuming.

“Being able to clearly articulate your value – from your customers’ perspective – is foundational to your sales success.”[note]Page 70[/note]

Knowing something about their business or their industry will go a long ways when you’re reaching out. Referencing their website and seeing that they’re hiring for a handful of new roles can get you in the door. (You can help them hire people faster.) Following their social channels and learning about the latest breakthrough they’ve had, shows them you care. (You can confirm their security is impenetrable.) That’s pretty black and white, but you get the point… I hope.

If you can articulate your value by referencing their current pains… you’ll have sparked their interest. Don’t lead with the product.

That is only two examples of how you can clearly articulate your value from the customer’s perspective. Jill Konrath takes it a step further and dives into ‘Trigger Events’.

“A trigger event is an occurrence that shifts an organization’s priorities. It could be internal or external to the organization. It doesn’t matter.”[note]Page 76[/note]

You better have just had a big Ah-Ha Moment Baby!

I have trigger events happen all the time! Whenever a law changes; people need to know about it. If something changes with the Affordable Care Act (ACA); I need to alarm my clients/prospects. Those are two examples…  Think anything! They’re in the news, boom. New CFO/CEO, boom. One of your competitors gets acquired, Trigger. Growth, hiring, expansion… ETC. The list goes on.

If something changes (trigger event) and now you’re even more aligned with their goals/immediate issues… imagine how much simpler it would be for you to articulate your value from their perspective!

“Your prospects are just too busy these days to waste their time with you if you don’t pay this price of admission.”[note]Page 95[/note]

I’ve been talking about this for the past few months. It’s the idea of social selling and separating yourself from the rest of the competition. You must personalize your approach. You must do your homework on the company. Nobody wants to be pitched on the first phone call and they sure as heck don’t want a canned voicemail. Same thing goes for your emails. You can’t send them some junk, because, like we learned earlier… it’ll be deleted!

Spend a few extra minutes; go to their website and at least read their ‘mission statement’ or ‘about us’.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve done all that but no word back from the prospect. It happens… and it happens a lot. It happens to ALL of you reading this. No big deal… now it’s your job to find relevant information to send their way every once in awhile. I’m sure you’ve got some cadence of how often you call, email, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

“Content designed for your prospects should present business value, help build a business case, educate about problems, invite interaction across the buying cycle, share expertise and reduce the perception of risk. – Ardath Albee”[note]Page 111[/note]

There is so much reliable content out there about every industry. Find credible information and send it to your prospects. Depending on what organization you work for, your employer could provide that information. Statistics and numbers speak volumes to people. Saving people time and money, increasing security, minimizing attrition… the list goes on. Jill has some lists in the book that you have to read!

Leaving one voicemail and sending one canned email isn’t going to do it in the information age. Prospects are being bombarded daily… set yourself apart and rise above the noise. Everybody is capable… you just have to make it routine.


There’s more to come from me about:

Snap Selling | Jill Konrath

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