By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
As mentioned in my last blog article, “no decision” is a common outcome of buying cycles that sellers participate in. While not as painful as losing to another vendor, the net result is the same: time is wasted and no revenue is generated.
In our sales training workshops, we cite the lack of a plan as one of the five reasons no decision outcomes occur. In enterprise committee decisions, many sellers play checkers rather than chess. They sell serially, contacting one buyer and going as far as they can to see where that might lead them. Their success or failure will be highly dependent upon the level of the initial buyer, the amount of influence that person has in their organization and the potential value (if it can be established) of the offering(s) being discussed. A major issue for both seller and buyer, however, is figuring out where they are in the buying process. Sellers starting low in organizations face the challenge of calling on people that can’t say yes, but can say no.
An alternative is negotiating access to key stakeholders early in the process to try to see if value and consensus to move forward can be gained. Even when that’s done, a seller’s chance of success will increase if the committee understands the steps needed for the seller to make a formal recommendation as well as an estimated time frame. As someone who has run five half marathons I can tell you finishing would have been much more difficult were it not for the mile markers that allowed me to know exactly how far I’d gone, but most importantly what remained to reach the finish line.
Trying to negotiate detailed Sequences of Events with committees does a number of things:
It is the single most powerful sign that you are “Column A”
Agreeing to the plan is a commitment by the buying committee
Both parties understand the effort and resources that will be necessary
The completion of the evaluation should be in a time frame the buyer requests
The seller and manager can monitor progress to see if everything is proceeding. Delays are potential red flags.
Forecasting opportunities becomes more predictable
Often sales/buying cycles are shorter with a written plan vs. going “point to point” with fairly random activities
Reducing “no decisions” is healthy for buying committees, sellers and vendors. In today’s business environment, nobody wants to waste time and effort.