How to keep deals moving forward
Create a commitment with your champion
One of the most common problems B2B sales teams run into is when deals stall in proposal. The root cause is typically that you’ve got your champion excited but they don’t have the power to sign the deal on their own and lack the skills to go to bat for you internally. The initial momentum subsides, the deal stops moving forward and eventually the champion stops responding.
The good news is that there are multiple approaches to get ahead of this, some of which I’ve previously written about including; multi-threaded prospecting to engage additional stakeholders, creating a mutual action plan with your champion to flush out additional stakeholders and bringing the need of decision makers into proposals. The way to tie together all these approaches is by creating a commitment with your champion to move the deal forward. There are 3 ways to do this:
1. Schedule a weekly meeting with your champion
The idea here is to schedule a 30 minute meeting with your champion every week until the date of their critical event and use it to build a mutual action plan and work through the line items in the plan.
Meeting live has multiple benefits. It minimizes the likelihood of emails getting missed, which is very common in companies with Slack-first cultures. It creates accountability for both sides to follow through on their commitments. And it creates urgency for your champion to go to bat for you if they want to hit their critical event.
Conversely, if your champion is not willing to have a weekly meeting, it’s a good sign they aren’t serious about moving forward and tees you up to ask, “Is there anything you’ve heard so far that is preventing you from moving forward?” to flush out hidden objections.
2. Schedule a meeting with your champion and the economic buyer
Meeting with the economic buyer should always be the goal because it gives you a chance to hear directly from them what they care about and enables you to join the dots for them on how your solution helps with their business priority. It also gives you the chance to make your champion look like a hero in front of their boss.
However, in reality this is a hard meeting to get. Economic buyers (aka executives) are very busy people who don’t have time to meet with salespeople — in my 15 years of being an exec buying software and services, the only time I’ve met with a vendor’s salesperson is when I’ve been both the champion and the economic buyer. In all other cases, I’ve always had someone on my team run point and generally shut down anything else that wasn’t tied to a business outcome.
So it goes without saying that if you can secure a meeting with the economic buyer, it’s obviously a great sign they are serious about making a decision and that you have been shortlisted for selection. Two good questions to ask in this meeting are, “Can you see your team using the product to solve <insert key problem>?” and “Based on what you’ve heard, is there anything preventing you from moving forward to a contract?”
3. Schedule a prep meeting with your champion
In most cases, you will have to rely on your champion to sell you internally to their boss. Unless your champion is a top performing salesperson, letting them do this without preparation is always a losing strategy because they will crumble at the first objection.
Scheduling a 30 minute prep meeting with your champion prior to them meeting with their boss gives you a chance to review what is important to their boss, to make sure its reflected in the executive summary of your proposal and to help your champion practice how to answer difficult questions. Remember the first time you pitched your product to a prospect and how you botched it up? That’s what you are trying to get ahead of in this meeting.
Two good questions to ask are: “What else does your boss care about that we haven’t covered here?” and “What’s the toughest question your boss is going to ask?”
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