Clients often tell Julie Thomas, president and CEO of ValueSelling, they have one big problem. They have great initial meetings and successful demos – and prospects appear to love them – yet, when they send in a proposal, “It’s suddenly crickets, dead silence, no response.”
Thomas says those crickets often chirp because salespeople jump way too quickly to proposals and then have very low closing rates. “They are trying to close unqualified opportunities,” Thomas says. “Critical steps have been missed in the sales cycle; the prospect is not ready to make a decision. Closing is just the outcome of a well-executed sales cycle.”
There are five key reasons that reps can’t close a deal.
The best reps notice when they have missed any of these steps. “The best reps dismiss the unwinnable opportunities sooner rather than later,” Thomas says. “Then they find new opportunities.”
In contrast, Thomas recalls a client who told her that any opportunity that stayed in the pipeline more than 100 days almost never closed. It just made the rep feel good and kept the rep busy with lots of activity when the rep should have been pursuing other opportunities.
ValueSelling teaches all reps how to ensure no steps are missed. Generally, the remedy for low closing rates is spending more time upfront, doing thorough discovery, understanding prospects’ business problems, and seeing that all decision makers and decision influencers have been identified and engaged.