How can you Best Prevent Stalled Deals?

A stall in flight is often experienced when an airplane pilot tries to climb too fast, experiencing a sudden reduction in lift as the upward angle of the airplane reaches a critical point where the wings no longer provide sufficient lift.

This is not a good situation to be in. As a claxon sounds off that the stall is occurring, the pilot must react quickly and properly in order to avoid a disaster. This often means backing off on the steep climb, and adding power.

In your pipeline there are likely more stalled deals than ever, as your prospects stick with business as usual, choosing “Do Nothing “versus proceeding with you proposal and saying, “Yes”.

This is understandable in the face of Frugalnomics, with your prospects having less resources, budget and tolerance for risk. Making matters worse, 40% more stakeholders are involved the purchase, with procurement and finance playing more prominent roles, adding to the complexity and duration of the buyer’s journey (IDC).

As a result, the chances of experiencing a stall are greater than ever, with Sales Benchmark Index indicating that the biggest threat to growing your business is not the competition, but that 58% of deals are now stalled in the average pipeline.

As you review your pipeline, does any of this sound familiar? The customer just won’t call me back….. They just went dark on me ….They just keep rescheduling our meetings ... All signs of a stall.

How can this occur? Depending on the stage in the buyer’s journey perhaps:
      Your prospect may not believe they have the issue you are selling?
      Your prospect knows they have the issue, but they have a lot of issues, and this one is way down in the stack?
      The rest of the decision-making stakeholders may not sympathize with the issue and think the issue is a priority worth addressing?
      The stakeholders don’t believe that any solution really exists to successfully solve the problem?
      In this “do more with less” economy, your prospects just don’t have the time, or the resources, or the budget to commit to the proposal?
      Your prospect perceives the proposal as too risky?
      Your prospect thinks a competitor might offer better value than you do?

When in a stall what do you do? Just like a pilot, you have to recognize that you may be attempting to “climb too fast”, getting ahead of the progressive steps your prospect’s team must go through in order to arrive at a purchase decision.

You can do two things at this point, reduce your angle of attack and slow down until the buyer’s process catches up to where you would like them to be, and/or provide more fuel to increase power and overcome the loss of altitude. And what is the fuel that can help power through the stall? Personalized, provocative and insightful content your prospects need to help facilitate the decision making process.

The Right Content to get from “Do Nothing” to Yes”

In order to avoid or recover from a stall, you must facilitate your prospects’ decision making as they attempt to answer key concerns along their decision making journey. And this facilitation must be delivered with Frugalnomics in mind:

  1. Why Change? - There are important issues to address, some of which your prospect might not have even been aware of. At this early stage, you have to illuminate the “Cost of Do Nothing” and “Quantify the Pain”.
  1. Why Now? – The issue is a priority compared to everything else they have on their plate, failing to address the issue will cause competitive harm, and that addressing the issue could deliver a quick payback and significant return on investment. Here, you have to “Justify the Gain”. 
  1. Why You? – That you are the best provider with the most cost effective, low risk and high value solution. In the final bake-off phase it’s key you “Prove You’re Not the Same”. 
In the past you could facilitate the buyer’s journey with more traditional content, but unfortunately your prospects say this won’t cut it any more:

1.    White papers are still leveraged by your prospects to help make decisions, usually early in the cycle, however over the past 3 years there has been a steady decline in their effectiveness to generate leads, and more importantly real sales opportunities.

2.    PPTs are likely used by your sales reps in the middle of the cycle, but prospects can’t stand these presentations – with 1/3rd having fallen asleep during a PPT presentations, and 1 in 5 rather wanting to go to a dentist than sit through another.

3.    TCO / ROI spreadsheets are likely used by reps or specialists later in your sales cycle, and even as demand for financial justification has dramatically increased, adoption remains a significant challenge.

So if traditional content is less than effective, what can you do to avoid the stall? The good news is that dynamic content can be leveraged to deliver the personalized, provocative and insightful engagement buyers need to facilitate their decision making process.

Dynamic content can include:
  1. Interactive White Papers and Benefits Estimators – replacing traditional white papers and used early in the engagement process, these tools collect some intelligence from the prospect about their profile and challenges, and use this information and benchmark insights to provide a more concise, personalized and provocative thought-leadership and analysis to convince buyers as to “Why Change?” and “Why Now?”.
  1. ValueStory – replacing PPTs with an interactive iPad App to more intelligently present targeted value messaging, visual storytelling, provocative data-driven surveys and assessments, and financial justification calculators.
  1. ROI / TCO Tools – replacing complex calculation spreadsheets with an easy to use, 3rd party validated on-line business case application.

The Bottom-Line

Stalls are all too common in your current pipeline, and likely represent your biggest opportunity for growth, and greatest issue for a potential “crash and burn.”

Just like an airplane pilot, you need to heed the signs of a stall, acting quickly and effectively to decrease the angle of attack and increase the air speed.

To provide the fuel and throttle up to address the stall, dynamic content can be used to help the buyer answer the “Why Change?”, “Why Now?” and “Why You?” and keep the journey progressively moving forward. 

The key: Stay Calm & Dynamic Content On!


Donerman said…
Well done Tom! Great analogy to disrupted flight. I'd also like to add that often, we forget that we, the seller, are not the foremost thing in the buyer's universe. I've found that patience can also be a good strategy; and that by reacting dramatically to a stall, you can kill the deal.
Great article and example. Ciao, Tom
Gautam Mahajan
Customer Value Foundation

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