Why Deals Stall

How to stop sales deals from stalling

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I remember in my sales management days I inherited a BDM when I started a new job whom I’ll call “Peter”. He had over $4 million  worth of opportunities he was waiting to close, and plenty of new opportunities he had generated too. His pipeline was more than impressive, it was exciting. However, as the weeks turned into months most of the deals weren’t closing. They had stalled.

Have you ever had similar situations? You know what I mean; lots of opportunities in your pipeline but little was converting.


In Peter’s case he was diligently visiting prospects and generating proposals. However, something was obviously wrong and I had to find out what it was.


It raises the question, “Why do deals stall?”


There are number of reasons for this. Maybe we didn’t qualify the prospect enough. Sometimes we sabotage our own sale because of our own psychological weaknesses. For example, if we have a sales condition which Objective Management Group call “Need for Approval”, this can stop us from asking tough questions to uncover issues, or ask for the order, and can make us too timid to follow up in case we look too pushy. But in Peter’s case there was a critical piece missing in the strategy behind his entire approach. “What was that?” you might ask. It’s the number one reason why deals stall. The answer is this: there is not enough client motivation.


When a prospect or client gives our proposal low priority, when other projects distract them, or when they’re happy with their incumbent it’s simply because we don’t matter enough to them. So how do we create this motivation? The answer lies in another question: “Why do people buy?”


Research tells us 85 percent of decisions are emotional. While many of us can see this in consumer purchases such as that big screen TV or that pretty dress, professional buyers are not immune. In fact, there are two emotional triggers that can generate urgency. That urgency in turn can generate buyer motivation. These emotional triggers are “pain” and “gain”.


A skilled consultative salesperson can take the time to ask plenty of questions. These go far beyond qualifying questions. They uncover issues causing real problems, frustrations and unnecessary costs. They expand on these “pain points” by almost becoming the prospect’s therapist, seeking all of the details and the impact on both the organisation and even the toll on them personally.


Peter didn’t do this. He would do what so many of us do: talk about the product and ask to quote. No wonder his deals stalled. There was no urgency, no differentiating value and definitely no motivation. Sadly, he wasn’t willing to change his approach.


What about us? Do we intentionally trigger the emotions generated by Pain and Gain? If we are good at doing this, we can generate the motivation we speak of. Our sales cycles speed up, our closing ratios improve, and our margins can actually increase due to the value we bring in our solutions.


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