If you’re having trouble pushing some sales through the deal funnel, you should put your best salespeople on it. They are diligent, but also respectful and flexible in the face of distractions and other priorities that compete for the buyer's time. Unfortunately, the stresses of performing and struggling conversion rates can sometimes cause even the best sales people to become impatient. Creating urgency can certainly be valuable for the buyer, but portraying that as impatience is anything but productive.
These are the three most common detrimental behaviors that occur when sellers feel pressure to move opportunities along faster:
“Convincing” the customer they should care. Sellers get so excited about the problems their product or service will solve that they focus on the potential future, ignoring the current reality for the customer.
Playing “gotcha” with the customer by asking leading questions. Some sales people ask questions with good intentions, but come off as extremely self-serving to the customer. For example, “If I could show you how to increase ABC by X amount, would you be interested?” As soon as a customer hears a question like this, they feel like they’re being sold to and their response doesn’t actually matter.
Discounting in order to get a contract over the line before a certain date. While discounting can certainly be useful and appropriate in certain situations, most sellers acknowledge it’s far too often a first step instead of a last resort – and eventually, your customers will come to expect it.
Creating urgency with customers in an effective and genuine way requires understanding the buyer’s thinking at every point of the sales cycle. Despite the increasing adoption of metrics in the B2B sales world, the typical sales cycle is still riddled with assumptions. We assume that the customer knows (or remembers) more than they do, and we overestimate how much we know about the customer.
Here are three steps every sales team can take to significantly improve the ability to understand the buyer’s thinking, improve the sales process, and move deals through the sales funnel organically:
If your deal funnel is clogged, don’t vary your own behavior. That could mean changing the cadence or channels of communication they use with a potential buyer. However, the most effective way to move deals through the sales pipeline is to use the three steps above to inspire a variation from the buyer. The circumstances of the buyer, and not the activity of the sales person, will always be more important to closing business.
Help your sales team overcome stalled deals by training them in the fundamentals of consultative selling. Request a consultation to learn more.
Tom Snyder is the founder of Funnel Clarity; a training and consulting company focused on humanizing sales. Snyder’s passion is helping companies achieve measurable sales performance improvement. Previously, Snyder spent 10 years with the sales training firm Huthwaite Inc, culminating in the role of CEO. He later founded Business Performance Partners, a sales and strategy consulting firm that evolved into Funnel Clarity. Snyder is a sought after international speaker and was named one of the Most Influential Sales Leaders. He has authored two McGraw Hill best sellers, “Escaping the Price Driven Sale” (2007) and “Selling in a New Market Space” (2010).