Stop worrying about your ‘competition’ your biggest threats are client apathy and inertia!
I have done win/loss analysis with larger b2b clients and it always amazes me how many losses were not down to a competitor winning the deal BUT the prospective client deciding to do nothing! When I have spoken to businesses as to why they decided to ditch the project these are the common reasons I get:
- It was never that high on our list of priorities for this year.
- The project lost momentum and other things took our focus.
- The person heading the project left the business or went to a new department.
- None of the potential suppliers could articulate a clear ROI.
- Our budget got cut.
The biggest concern for me is the pre-sales costs for the seller which will probably never be recouped. In some cases, these added up to tens of thousands of pounds in time and resources. Figures that would have bankrupted smaller businesses. Not all of the deals lost were through tender processes but I have long argued that ‘tenders’ should be avoided unless you have direct access to all the stakeholders AND were involved in talks pre-tender.
Salespeople tend to avoid looking for negatives (some sales trainers even teach it!) when in fact it is these that are the absolute key to spotting a ‘poor project’. The best salespeople I have worked with are those not afraid to ask the “What could kill this project?” question at an appropriate part of their fact find. They are also willing to say things like “It strikes me that you have the skills and capabilities to handle this project internally, why don’t you do that?” and “I know you have been using XYZ for a number of projects in this area, surely they would be much better placed to help you on this than us?”
When you are prepared to ask the difficult questions, those that could lead to an early exit, you haven’t lost the deal, you just saved your business money! If you get the right answers however you learn so much and can get a real feel for the opportunity that exists. You also demonstrate a level of professionalism that is sadly lacking in some salespeople.
If you have any sales issues that you would like me to blog about please send a comment and I’ll be delighted to oblige.
Thank you for reading!
Stuart Allen ~ MD of The Sales Performance Company Ltd
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