“I can’t see why they wouldn’t sign?”
There are a few days left in the month, we are doing final deal reviews, and I hear “I can’t see why they wouldn’t sign this month” from one of my reps- I’m worried.
As a rep you need to anticipate all the reasons why a prospect wouldn’t sign with you, to a point of healthy paranoia. Anticipating needs is one of the best qualities in an attentive and prepared rep. If you have done a good job of anticipating needs and preparing for them you won’t be caught off guard when last minute objections come up, and by the way, at the last minute is when the MOST objections will come up.
There are a million reasons why someone wouldn’t commit, even if they have given you all the right buying signs and it’s been smooth sailing so far.
I think of it like getting a kid ready to go to bed, they always want just one more bedtime story, someone to check for monsters, to be tucked in… the objections keep coming the closer bedtime arrives.
The bed time story: References– That last minute reference request comes up almost every time. You had offered reference calls several times over the course of the sales cycle and each time they politely declined- but now it has become the most important factor in their decision. How are you going to get a customer on the phone to talk to your prospect on such short notice? They have businesses to run too and end of quarter is busy for everyone! The only way this is going to happen is if you were ready for it, and all my reps are. In every single deal, before we even have our first demo my reps have chosen a reference that the prospect can talk to that is very similar, either the same industry, same size, same problems, same geographic location and often all of these things combined. It’s not always easy to find them and often times we don’t need to use them, but having references on deck that are similar to your prospect and ready to chat is a huge value in the deal to both your prospect and your current customer, there is often a lot more they can discuss and network about besides your product.
Checking for monsters: Competitive Intel- I can’t tell you how many times I have been blindsided by some crazy piece of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) that was thrown at me by our competition, mostly because a lot of it is completely unfounded. But you can react much better when you are prepared. The best way to combat competitive rumors is first to tell the customer to expect it and have an open enough relationship where they will come to you to get the truth before passing judgment. Another important exercise is to stay informed on what the competition is offering and saying about you, but more importantly what your true value statements are and your unique selling points and emphasize those during the close. NetSuite is a premium product in our market and in my team’s space we will typically be about 30% premium over our closest competitors. We do a lot to prove that premium and if we do our jobs right customers appreciate and value the long term partnership we offer with our solution.
Getting tucked in: Board Approval- One of the most common last minute delays in our deals is getting final sign off from the board, exec team, or legal. Everyone needs to put their seal of approval on the deal before it can be signed. If you haven’t been speaking with the ultimate signer up till now they can often emerge in the final hour with new objections. It’s important to make sure your primary contacts in the deal can advise you as to the political dynamics in the organization so you have an opportunity to meet with the signer and go through the documents with them while there is still time to make necessary changes. The most common pitfall that I see is negotiating the terms with the primary contact, then after giving all your concessions having the true decision maker come back asking for additional discounts or favorable terms again when you thought everything was agreed upon.
What’s behind all these stalling tactics is the fear to commit, or a concern that they need more information or more time to make a decision. Customers don’t want to feel rushed by your artificial timelines, but there also needs to be an end in sight. Having an open discussion early and often about the decision making process, timeline, players and budget is the best way to make sure everyone is aware and comfortable with a mutually agreed plan of action to a signature.
What are some of your tips for putting deals to bed?