Today’s post is a guest post from Tammy Shimp, Regional Sales Director for Return Path. Return Path is a customer and I’ve been working with Tammy for the past 3 months. One of the things we’ve been working on is accelerating deals in the pipeline and trying avoid them getting “stuck.”
I asked Tammy to share her thoughts on her learnings and what she’s discovered in this process. I like what she’s come up with.
Stalled deals and can crush a pipeline and devastate forecasting. Getting to the core of why your deals are stalling is the first step in fixing the problem. As most of you know, I’m a huge fan of analysis and assessment. Tammy does a good job of dissecting her stalled deals and I appreciate her sharing her findings. The “Lessons Learned” are great.
I took the time with my sales team this quarter to review several sales moving in the right direction and then all of a sudden stalled. It was interesting to dissect each of these and determine if the Sales Executive could have prevented this from happening. We uncovered two interesting themes:
- The next step was not identified
- The next step was identified but the Sales Executive did not hold the prospect accountable
Stalled Sale #1: After speaking to the prospect and ending the call, the Sales Executive missed the next step, that being scheduling a follow up call. The prospect said, “Follow up with me in two weeks” vs. the Sales Executive driving this step and setting a quicker timeline for decision making. We all know how busy our prospects are and waiting two weeks and then trying to reach out put the Sales Executive on the back burner. The Sale Executive was no longer controlling the sale, but at the mercy of the prospect responding. Lesson learned: Sales Executives need to drive the sale and don’t take a backseat.
Stalled Sale #2: The proposal review call went well and the agreed upon next step was for the prospect to review the proposal with others internally. The prospect would then get back to the Sales Executive on x date. X date came and went and no response from the prospect. The Sales Executive continued to follow up by leaving a voicemail and sending emails, but the content of those messages was not strong enough to make the prospect respond…they were simple follow-up messages. Once we discussed the stalled sale and determined a stronger follow up message, the Sales Executive then followed up with the client. This message to the client was professionally calling her out on not executing the agreed upon next step. The client responded within a day and the sale is now moving again. Lesson learned: Sales Executives should not be afraid to call out a client’s lack of execution.
In summary, I recommend reviewing all stalled sales or lost sales with your team monthly and brainstorm on what was missed or could be improved. It is our job as a manager to remind our sales teams to pause, step back and analyze. What went wrong? Why? Can the sale be resurrected? How can we take what we learned and apply it to the next sale?