In the past few weeks, I’ve received over a dozen requests from salespeople regarding what to do when their sale has stalled.  The symptoms of a stalled sale are as follows:

Your customer does not respond to your phone calls and voicemails as they once did.  You see, at one point in time, you and the prospect seemed to be getting along very well.  Your phone calls were responded to, emails were returned quickly, and agreed-upon appointments were met.  And then, suddenly… radio silence or long delays.  These are primary symptoms of a stalled sale.

When sales stall, the paranoia of the salesperson increases by the day.  Somewhere along the line, the salesperson starts to worry “Did I do something wrong?” or “Is the decision-maker going to buy from my competitor?”  This paranoia is healthy and normal.  Frankly, I get worried about a sales representative who does not have some anxiety about sales that looked good and were forecastable but, suddenly, the prospect is not responding.

If this is a symptom that you are encountering or have encountered, continue reading.

There are multiple reasons for a sale stalling.  First and foremost is the enthusiasm of the salesperson.  In other words, we believe it’s going to close a long time before the customer is ready to close.  We get misled by the customer’s inquiries and curiosity.  The cordiality and fast response are misinterpreted as clues that the customer is ready to buy.

Remember, you can’t nor should you ever anticipate a sale unless you have absolute certainty regarding the barebones qualifying criteria which can be summed up with the acronym M.A.N.T. – which stands for Money, Authority, Need and Timing.  You must be in contact and knowledgeable about whether or not the customer has the Money to fund whatever it is you’re selling.

Secondly, you must clearly understand that your contact has the Authority to spend the money and contract with you and your company.  Third, you must understand and, hopefully, in a quantified fashion the Need that you are addressing.  Remember, when the customer understands in a quantified fashion (dollars, pounds, time, competitive advantage, etc.), the need will become more urgent and the customer will be more inclined to buy from you.  Fourth and certainly not last is the Timing.

If you don’t have clear 20/20 vision on all four of these issues (Money, Authority, Need and Timing), then you probably are setting yourself up for a stalled sale.  My wholehearted recommendation is to allow your customers to tell you “no” as early as possible.  The salesperson who is adverse to hearing no will encounter stalled sales.  In other words, if you had given the customer permission to say no at the beginning of your sales effort, then you may have lost a sale but it would not have stalled.

If you have control and understanding, in a quantified fashion, of the four attributes that make up M.A.N.T., then you have some leverage that you can apply to the customer.  Try getting through to the customer with an express delivery envelope.  Or, call the customer early in the morning and shortly after normal working hours.  Another tactic for a phone call is to call the customer at lunchtime.

I’ve found that, by being professionally persistent and feeding the customer continuous “drips” of educational information, information that will help them resolve one or more of the operating condition challenges they’re facing, will keep you top of mind without making the customer perceive that you are a pest.  Give these a shot; and you will frequently be surprised that the customer that has gone “radio silent” and/or has “submarined” will surface and ironically, when the do reengage in communication, they are frequently ready to go and get your solution almost immediately.

Keep sending me your questions and thoughts, and I will provide you with some more tips next week.  As always, I wish you…

Good Luck and Good Selling!!!

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