How often have you put the phone down or left a meeting with a Prospect/ Customer convinced that you were going to get the go ahead- then nothing happens?
You keep following up, the opportunity stays in your pipeline (along with multiple other similar opportunities.) You spend lots of time trying to devise creative ways to move these opportunities along and they just stall.
This then has an adverse effect on the new opportunities going in to your pipeline. You don’t have enough time to do enough Prospecting. Meanwhile your boss is on your case concerned that these 80% likely to close opportunities aren’t happening. And they want to know how much other stuff is there kicking around in the forecasting just like it? Now you are under real pressure!
You did deep on one of the opportunities. Through sheer tenacity you find out from your contact that the project got superseded by another business requirement. Or that they decided to go with another option which you could have provided. Or that the allocated budget which would have been used for your solution was used for something else.
Not the feedback you wanted to find out. They’re all the reasons why what you were offering DIDN’T happen.
You might be ultimately confident that you are going to get the go ahead because you met with the CEO or MD. And they were keen! Surely that’s a good sign. Only if you find out how they make their decisions- do they have ultimate say or do they let their direct reports and others influence the decision?
They may only go ahead if they get 100% buy in from their team or even be fearful of them!
I’ve seen and experienced this working both ways: I’ve lost business where a project was agreed, budget allocated and dates set but the 3 Team Leaders I then started working with were threatened by some of my ideas and were fearful that the approach would make them less credible with their teams! (We were using humour as a way of positively highlighting bad practices.) The fact that we were positioning it as their ideas just fell flat and the training was cancelled. They didn’t even use another solution- just stayed doing what they were doing. They felt the juice was definitely not worth the squeeze!
I’ve got the go ahead for business as a result of 4 senior managers over-ruling a Director. They even suggested we didn’t meet because they knew we wouldn’t get on but my solution was the best fit for their business! They knew the juice was worth the squeeze.
The reason we face these barriers is because we are only focussing on what we want to hear not what we might not want to hear!
Here are some questions to avoid this frustration and get swifter and improved pipeline conversions:
“What other options are you considering?”
“Apart from you who else is involved in this process?”
“What’s the best way for us to interact with them?”
“What element of this will be on their agenda?”
“Is there anything else going on in the business that might delay or prevent this going ahead?”
“What are you going to do if you DON’T do this?”
You might be concerned that this could feed objections or even receive news you don’t want to hear. But at least you then have more insight and will be better prepared to come up with ideas and solutions to deal with the issues. And know the reality of the situation.
Equally you will find out if the responses reinforce the reasons to go ahead and make the situation more resilient. Juice definitely worth the squeeze!
It’s the bold questions that deliver these answers that you need. I’ve shared a few and I’d love to know what others work for you and also your experiences in these situations, please share them. And thanks for reading, let’s make sure we find out if more of our opportunities are worth the squeeze for our Prospects and customers and us!