May 21, 2020 • Podcast

How do I manage pending sales (deals) in tough and uncertain times?

Paul shares three ideas to manage pending deals during this pandemic.

Show Notes:

People are emotional and irrational in good times; they are more emotional and irrational in tough times. So, rely on the logic they’ve already used.

“All this uncertainty is clouding our judgment, so let’s use our previous logic and reasoning.”

“Pressure takes the focus off of price. Pressure also establishes urgency in the buyer’s process.”

“Social proof will help play on the herding mentality.”

“Remind your customer the greater cost, doing nothing.” FOMO is real. Remind the customer of what they are missing.

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How do I manage pending sales (deals) in tough and uncertain times?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we’re going to answer a question that came from a recent webinar I was conducting with one of my clients. They sell high-end capital, industrial-type equipment. The salesperson at the end of our webinar asked how to manage those pending deals.

Here’s what happened. The salesperson spent several months selling their equipment, getting the buyer to commit. They got the buyer to verbally commit and almost sign a purchase order, and then, the pandemic happened. At this point, the buyer’s getting cold feet. They’re not sure if they want to move forward. The salesperson said, “I’ve, been in contact with them for the past several weeks, and I just get a sense that they don’t want to move forward.” That’s what we’re going to answer on today’s show is how to manage that situation when you have a customer who committed, and now, from this pandemic, from the economic shutdown, the crisis, they don’t want to move forward. That’s what we’re going to address on today’s show.

Before we get into answering that question, a quick shout out to our sponsor, Andrea, and her team over at The Creative Impostor Studio. I remember thinking back when I was first considering a podcast, I did some research and, to me, it sounded complex. When I reached out to Andrea, she really helped me along, simplified things, helped frame up the show, and also even get the tech ready as well. So, reach out to Andrea if you’re interested. Again, you can find her contact information on our webpage.

Also, pick up our latest copy of Value-Added Selling. We’re on the fourth edition now. This book is your go-to guide. Whether it’s good times, bad times, customers still want value. And in this book we give you the process; we teach you how to sell on value. So pick that up. It’s available at Amazon.

Let’s get right into that question. How do you manage those deals: customers that are now getting cold feet; that want to stall or wait, or just put that deal in a holding pattern?

The first tip: we have to ask our customer to rely on their previous logic, not their current state of mind. Why we do that as pretty clear. Right now, buyers and decision makers are emotional. They’re letting some of the irrational behavior, irrational mindset, the emotion of the situation, to cloud their vision into the future. We don’t want to make a decision when we’re in this place. And that’s what we want to say to customers.

Here’s how we might frame this up in an actual messaging piece. We’re going to reach out to our customer and say, “Mr. Customer, I understand that, right now, there is a lot of uncertainty. And given the uncertainty, it’s tempting to want to just hit the pause button, maybe wait until everything is cleared out of the way and we’re back to a new normal. I just don’t think that makes sense. And here’s why I say that, Mr. Customer. Right now, we’re trying to make a decision based on our current emotional state. We’re looking at the current data we have, and we’ve got to remember that we made this decision already. If we were to look back before the Coronavirus, the pandemic, let’s take a look at the logic and the reason that we used at that point in time. Because, most of the time, our economy is just humming along. We’re either stable or we’re growing. It’s important that we make this long-range decision using sound judgment. Right now, all this uncertainty is clouding our decision making, so let’s rely on the previous logic.”

We’re trying to put them back into a state of mind where they made this decision using logic and reason, and less emotion. It’s important that we do that because we’re almost drawing a parallel to how they previously decided. We’re showing them, “You’ve already made this decision during good economic times. Let’s move forward. Let’s, let’s rely on that decision, not the decision that we’re making now.”

So, that’s the first tip. Again, call back to the original reason why they’re buying. Look at the decision making criteria, and remind them that they’ve already made this decision and they made that decision during good economic, stable times, which means they probably made a better decision.

The next thing we want to do, we want to utilize pressure points. Typically, pressure points will take the focus off of price, and that’s what we focus on and in Value-Added Selling. Whenever a buyer is feeling more pressure to purchase from you, they make price less of an issue. If, for example, they have to buy it now, price is less of an issue. If they have a lot of key decision makers that are on board with your solution, that’s a pressure point in your favor. If there are very few solutions to the problem that the customer is facing and you have a unique solution, that’s a pressure point in your favor.

Pressure points are also effective to establish some urgency in the buyer’s process. Think about it right now, we’ve got customers that are in a holding pattern; they don’t want to make a big decision. We need to remind them of some of the pressure that they’re feeling. And reminding of that pressure in a subtle way will help them move forward, even in the face this uncertainty. So, we want to use those pressure points in our messaging.

Also, social proof is going to be important during this type of pandemic. When you have a customer who has a deal that is stalled out, that they don’t want to make the investment, here’s what you should consider doing. Look at other areas of their business, or even other examples within the industry, of customers or other organizations that are making significant investments. And you could say, “I saw this in the news. Company XYZ has recently committed to expanding their operation. This company is investing in their business right now, given the timing of everything that’s going on. With all these companies making moves and investing in their business, it would make sense that you also follow suit.” Use this opportunity to move forward, to press on, and by doing that, you’re giving them a little social proof. You’re letting them know, “Some other people—these market leaders, these industry leaders, your competitors in certain cases—they are making investments to better position themselves.”

What we’re doing is, we’re trying to play on that herding mentality. And that’s social proof as well, in that we’re showing them examples of how other organizations are moving forward and investing in their business.

The final thing we do… let’s talk about FOMO: The fear of missing out. That is real, and right now, there’s a reason that this customer is toiling with the decision. They’re trying to figure out, “Okay, should I invest? Should I not? I’m going to put everything in a holding pattern.” We have to remind our customers of the cost of doing nothing. Because we know what the cost of moving forward is; it’s the investment that they’re making today. But what would be the greater cost? The greater cost would be, “Eh, I’m just going to wait.” Well, the greater cost there is maybe you’re missing an opportunity to take full advantage of the market upswing that’s going to follow this economic shutdown in crisis.

So highlighting that fear of missing out, you might position it to the customer by saying, “Look, Mr. Customer. I understand that, right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty. But one thing we do know for sure is that eventually we’re going to come out of this. We’re going to become stronger. The economy is going to become stronger. We don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to take full advantage of that next upswing in the industry.” We know the cost of moving forward and here’s what that is. That’s the investment that they’re going to make. And we say, “A couple of months ago, you’d already decided that this is what we want to do. So, yes, this is the cost of investing now. But the greater cost could be sitting around and doing nothing. And doing that, we’re going to miss that opportunity.”

So that last tip, again: playing on that fear of missing out. These are bizarre times in the business world. With that being said, it’s important that you make a strong case for the customer to move forward on some of these pending deals. You’ve got to be careful. Don’t be too pushy, don’t be too aggressive. Be respectful of their decision. The last thing we want to do is, we don’t want to kill the deal completely.

So make your strong case. Do what salespeople do. Look out for your customer and see what happens.

Make it a big day.

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