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Clients Who Delay Making a Decision

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More and more salespeople are facing sales situations in which clients are delaying the close. To begin to get the sale back on track the salesperson has to first really understand what is causing the delay. Is it really a delay? Does the opportunity exist? If so, what are the best steps to regain momentum? By knowing why the deal is on hold you can plan a strategy that can help remove the obstacle. You also must find a way to create a sense of urgency and remain positive and not show signs of frustration. Let’s look at each of these:

Understanding the Obstacle

It takes strength and skills to re-ask (or ask) the tough questions that need to be asked when a decision gets delayed and to do so in a way that allows you to maintain rapport. This is not the time to lose your client focus. The client may be very disappointed too. You can learn a lot by asking how the client feels about the delay and what it means to him or her. Also, ask how the need will be handled in the interim. Then re-ask the decision-making questions: What has caused the delay? Why now? And most importantly, who is supporting the initiative? And who is blocking it? How does it get into the company’s strategic plan? How much of a priority is it? What are the steps in the decision process? Who will be involved? What is the new time frame? Is there a compelling event?

What you ask, who you ask, and how you ask matters. You must re-validate time frames, budget, and decision-making cycle and process to understand the real potential. Validate with more than one client to get different perspectives from decision makers and influencers. Set your strategy: If you are in a competitive situation, find out the level of access your competitor has gotten. In many situations, the deal will go to the competitor with the best access. Leverage your contact to get to the seniors your competitor has gotten to or get left out in the cold. Don’t avoid asking tough questions to avoid bad news. Your validating questions help you understand the situation and determine if there really is a deal. The answers are the key to moving the deal forward or, at worst, preventing you from spending time on deals that won’t materialize. Without specific information you are in the dark, you can’t realistically assess the opportunity or plan a strategy to close.

Stay cool (not detached!) – When there is a delay, while you must have a sense of urgency, it is critical to avoid becoming frustrated or sounding demanding, impatient, or desperate. Use well-prefaced, client-focused questions. As the client responds, acknowledge, empathize, and drill down.

If you have other team members in the relationship, including seniors, use them to ask questions of their contacts to validate too. Compare data. Leverage your internal coach (person who will give you information and support not necessarily available to your competitors who hopefully you have developed). If your competitor is better positioned politically, even if your solution is better, you can lose. Distinguish yourself with the quality and level of each contact. Be creative in keeping contact and getting posted. Continue to modify how you position and reinforce value. Keep finding ways/reasons to keep contact.

For example, one salesperson was told she’d get an answer on Friday. Two weeks passed, she left messages and got no reply. She involved her senior. They brainstormed and realized they had a connection to the organization from a top level they hadn’t used. The senior called the client contact with a tidbit of information that was relevant to the deal and selection process and asked if she could leave a message for his senior. She left the upbeat message. When they won the deal the client senior said, “Thank you for leaving the message.” The message was no big deal but it was another small, relevant connection that helped push the decision in the salesperson’s favor and helped the client feel comfortable to close.

After every meeting or important phone call, follow up with a concise e-mail. Use a tri-strategy of face-to-face, phone, and e-mail to remain on the client’s radar screen. Always end each meeting or contact with the next step and time nailed down firmly in place to maintain momentum and, at the end of each contact, reinforce you want to work with the client.

When buying decisions are delayed you, first and foremost, find out why. Validate all information and maintain contact in a proactive, helpful, creative way. Use every resource you have. Be appropriately aggressive. If a client or prospect with potential cancels the deal, don’t be a fair-weather friend, only there when a deal is on the table. Keep quarterly contact, show interest. That client is likely to get back in the buying mode or move to another company and will remember you for it. ”

Linda Richardson: President and CEO of Richardson, training consultants to corporations, banks, and investment banks globally. Richardson has 110 professionals, 15 regional offices in the United States, and presence in London, Australia, Singapore, Latin America, and Asia. Clients of Richardson include KPMG, Federal Express, General Mills, Tiffany & Co., Dell Computer, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Citibank, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, and Kinko’s. Visit http://www.Richardson.com.

Linda Richardson Answers Sales Questions: Click Here For Free Answers

Clients Who Delay Making a Decision
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About Linda Richardson
Linda Richardson: President and CEO of Richardson, training consultants to corporations, banks, and investment banks globally. Richardson has 110 professionals, 15 regional offices in the United States, and presence in London, Australia, Singapore, Latin America, and Asia. Clients of Richardson include KPMG, Federal Express, General Mills, Tiffany & Co., Dell Computer, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Citibank, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, and Kinko’s. Visit http://www.Richardson.com.

Linda Richardson Answers Sales Questions: Click Here For Free Answers WebProNews Writer
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