Sales Opportunities Stalled? Here Are 7 Tips for Kick Starting Them
Stalled sales opportunities can drive salespeople crazy. Worse than losing your sanity however is losing slowly and watching your productivity drop like my favorite band in high school, Led Zeppelin.
Inspired by a conversation I recently had with a client of mine, Kevin S., a Vice President of Sales for a national printing company, here’s a set of tips on how to kick start stalled opportunities.
Before the tips let me make one important qualifier. Stalled opportunities are not the same as unqualified opportunities. If it’s an opportunity then it meets criteria for being qualified at some stage on your funnel. If it’s stalled it still has to meet that criteria, otherwise it’s no longer an opportunity at any stage on your funnel.
If you confuse stalled opportunities with unqualified opportunities you risk wasting time on leads that aren’t qualified at any stage and you might not give sufficient selling time to leads that are already qualified. Don’t be afraid of firing unqualified opportunities.
1) Don’t just follow up – follow up with purpose. A prospect gets no value out of you following up some previous call or action. Are you completing something you said you would do earlier? Are you delivering something you promised earlier? Do you have additional information you think the prospect should be interested in? Your follow up should have purpose.
2) Don’t just check in – bring something of value. If you think the prospect’s interest has waned bring him something that might provoke a newly inspired level of interest. This might be an article or white paper or latest news about the situation the customer finds himself in.
3) Help this stakeholder generate interest with other stakeholders. Too often we’re quick to anoint a stakeholder as our coach or advocate but we’re not as quick to continually feed those stakeholders stuff that helps them sell the change to others. This is also a good way for you to get to other stakeholders who might be a bottleneck in making progress.
4) Validate with your last contact that the situation is a top 2-3 issue. Top 10 issues won’t get attention right now. Often the situation hasn’t changed, but what you really want to find out is if her energy for the situation has changed. Ask her if the situation is better or worse not to know the answer to that question as much as to read her take on the situation. Does she respond in a disinterested manner or does her face get red and you have to remove all sharp objects from the desk? If it’s a top 2-3 issue she’s still motivated to do something about.
5) Shift your discovery to learning the financially compelling characteristics of the problem. There’s nothing like a cost that wasn’t budgeted or a top line that isn’t meeting budget to get a PFA’s attention. If the problem isn’t financially compelling enough to commit funding the stalled lead will stay stalled.
6) Don’t let the ‘sample’ become a sore spot. If you’re following up on a sample you gave earlier and every time you ‘follow up’ you go right to the sample don’t be surprised if eventually your stakeholder stops taking your call. Maybe she said yes to the sample too soon – maybe you offered it too soon. You could even be direct about it and say something to the effect of let’s forget about the sample for now. I’m not sure I did a good job understanding your needs the first time. Do you have a second to answer a couple of questions?
7) Recommend some ideas as a way to kick start the conversation. “Janey, I was thinking about your situation and I had a couple of ideas that might interest you. Want to chat about it this Friday?” Bringing ideas shows her you’re mentally engaged in her problem or situation. Stakeholders like that. One of those ideas could be just the thing to inspire her to take action right now.