Lately we’ve watched a growing number of our solution provider clients getting to the proposal stage with prospects and then losing. They have great first discussions, prepare detailed proposals, then nothing happens. Prospects cry budget woes, use delay tactics, or ignore them completely.
Common ErrorAs we’ve conducted loss analyses with different solution providers, we’ve identified one common factor: The solutions providers are attempting to close too quickly.
Here’s what’s happening.
The solution provider gets a lead and calls to set a first appointment. In the prospect’s mind, he’s agreeing to a 30-minute initial discussion or at the most a one-hour meeting. But as a solution provider, you’re thinking, “this is a great prospect! I’d better bring a technical consultant along, too, so we can delve deep into their technical situation.”
What the prospect expected to be a one-hour meeting at most drags on for two hours, maybe even more. You cover a lot of ground and gather excellent information. The prospect opens up and shares his vision and needs. Maybe you walk around and look at what they have installed or how they’re using their applications. You leave feeling as if you connected with the prospect and have the ideal solution in mind.
But when you present your proposal, suddenly the prospect delays or declines. Or, worse still, he doesn’t return your calls. And you’re left wondering why.
In that scenario, the sales process was doomed from the first meeting.
No matter what you’re selling, from single firewalls to cloud applications, IT solutions are complex and impact the whole business. When a prospect is considering a new solution provider, it’s more like choosing a doctor or lawyer than walking into Walmart and purchasing an iPad.
A Matter of TrustThere has to be a connection, a relationship and trust before they’ll invest.
When you speed through the sales process, you don’t allow your prospects to gain that sense of trust. They don’t have time to build a relationship with you. While they may feel a connection, it isn’t given the necessary time to develop.
As a result, prospects stall, decline or hide. And you lose.
Slow Down (Slightly)My advice if you’re experiencing a similar challenge is to lengthen your sales process slightly.
Give your prospect the opportunity to gain confidence and trust in you and your company. You don’t have to add months to your sales process, but let go of the old “one call close” approach to selling. The more time they have to get to know you, the more comfortable your prospects will feel about working with you.
Next up I’ll give you some strategies to extend your sales process and build trust with new prospects.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert and author of the award winning book “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.