Deal review after deal review, I see the same thing. Sales people don’t seem to be managing the process, they are responding to what the customer is doing (or not doing).
This is particularly frightening, when one recognizes customers don’t know how do buy, they wander through the buying process, going back and forth, starting and stopping, changing direction, getting lost. Then more frightening, the majority of their buying journeys end in no decision made.
But deal review after deal review, I pose the question, “What are the next two critical things you and the customer must do to move through the buying process?”
Usually, the response to this is, crickets, they say nothing. Alternatively, “we’re waiting for the customer,” “or the customer isn’t getting back to me,” or …..
Don’t misunderstand me, they’ve gone through their standard stuff, they’ve pitched the product, they’ve dumped all their content on the customers, they’ve done the demos, but now they wait and wait and wait.
They call the customer to check-in. They try to send more content. and then they wait.
I ask, “When does the customer need to have a solution in place, what happens to them if they don’t?”
“What is the customer’s plan, what are they doing, how can you help them?”
Sometimes, there are responses, “They are evaluating everything, they are preparing their case for management…..” or, “I don’t know, they’ve gone dark.”
It is the customer’s buying process. We can’t control it, it’s theirs to control. But we can help them manage it and move through it effectively and efficiently. We can help them with the process. We can help them develop and execute their buying process. We can show them how others have made these types of decisions. When they lose their way, we can help them figure out what’s next. When they get distracted, we can remind them about what they intended to do or the consequences they identified for not meeting their target decision date.
With every qualified opportunity there is always the question, “What’s next?” If a salesperson cannot answer this question, they are not managing the process or helping the customer succeed.