On today’s episode of the Same Side Selling Podcast, Ian Altman discusses one of the most common questions he receives: Why am I losing deals? Why do I struggle to close deals that I’ve worked on for a long time?
Learn what mistakes you may be making early in the sales process that lead to this frustrating conclusion and how you can set yourself up for success.
Welcome to the Same Side Selling Podcast. I'm your host, Ian Altman. Today, my topic is something that is near and dear to my heart, which is, in response to a question I often hear from people who are new in the Same Side Selling Academy during our monthly Coach's Corner sessions. And I hear it when I'm speaking at events. People come to me as I'm coming off stage, and they often ask the following question, which is, why am I losing deals? How come we struggle to close deals that we've worked on for a long time? What are we doing wrong? What's the mistake that our team is making in that final stage?
And oftentimes, what's happening is people aren't getting back to them. They're being ghosted. They're not hearing from the people. And it's frustrating because they feel like, Man, I've invested all this time, and now the client isn't giving us the time of day. And very often, their ultimate decision is status quo. They're just staying with what they did before.
So what are those things that happened that caused that problem? And in most cases, what people focus on is what transpired in the most recent meeting? What's the most recent thing that happened? And so, it's kind of like, the way I like to look at it is; it’s almost like cooking. And what I mean by that is that if you cook something, and you kind of ruin it, it's usually not because of the last thing you did. It's often because of something you did early on. So, for example, when people ruin a steak, oftentimes, it's because when they first bought the steak, they didn't buy the right kind of meat, or it was frozen, and they didn't defrost it properly, or they didn't season it properly. So there's a whole bunch of things that happen early in the process that dramatically impacts the end of the process.
And in B2B sales, it's the same thing only magnified. So more often than not, when you have a problem at the very end of the process, what you should look at is look for what happened at the beginning of the process.
And here's what I mean. If it turns out that you started the whole dialogue based on we're trying to sell you something, and I'm pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing, and I get my way in there, then the client's perception from that moment forward is this individual is more interested in getting the sale than they are ensuring that we're getting the right results. They're more committed to the revenue than they are to the fit. And so what happens is that creates a level of mistrust, a level of uncertainty about what they're going to get. And when that happens, they get a little bit skittish. Towards the end of the process, it's easy for them to either say, we're not going to do this, or we'll just stick with what we had, or we go with somebody else, or we're not going to get back to you because they see you as someone who's just a seller, not someone who's there to solve.
So instead of being there to sell, you want to make sure you show up as someone who's there to solve. And the way we do that is through starting the conversation by asking questions about what the challenges are that they're facing, and what the success criteria are, and what might jeopardize that success with the client before we get into anything else.
So very often, someone will reach out to a company trying to get information about their products and services. And they might say, Hey, I'm interested in this service that you guys have. How much is it? And it's easy for the sales rep to say, Oh, well, gee, that's $20,000. Oh, man, I don't think we have $20,000. You know, we only have 15,000. Let me see what I can do. And now it's become an issue where it's all about the price.
So what if instead if someone reached out and said, I'm interested in the service that you offer. And you said, depending upon what people's needs are, that service might range from 15,000 to $40,000. And I want to make sure that I give you accurate information. Can I ask you a few questions to make sure that I understand exactly what you're trying to do? If I don't think we can help you, I'll point you in the direction of someone who can. If it looks like I can help you, you want to layout the next steps together to ensure that we can deliver what you need. Is that okay? Now, who's going to say no to that? People are going to be like, wait a minute, so you're not just going to give me some price and hope that it's the right fit? And I'm not evading the pricing discussion because I'm actually giving them a reason why I need more information before I give them accurate information. And I'm even giving them a range of what it might cost. And so that way, I'm not saying, Oh, I won't tell you until I have this other information. You're saying, here, I'm happy to give you a range, but it's a pretty broad range. I need to better understand what you're trying to achieve, what success looks like, and we need to make sure that we're confident we can deliver. At that point, what you've just conveyed is that their outcome and success are more important than just the sale.
And by doing that, it builds trust because, in any B2B sales environment, the number one thing you're selling is trust. People have to feel like they can trust that you're committed to delivering the results.
Oftentimes, I'll ask people in sales, I say, I want you to think of the buyer-seller journey as a race. The starting block is initial contact. The starter fires the pistol. We head off to the finish line. The finish line is there, and we breakthrough, and we're high fiving and celebrating. What do we call the finish line? And the answer most people in sales give is the close, the sale, the contract, someone in accounting might say getting paid. But when I ask customers what their finish line is, the customer says the finish line is actually getting the results.
Now, the interesting thing is that people often say, Well, it's delivery. It's like a delivery is not the finish line. If you deliver everything you said you would deliver, but the client does not get the results they need, will they consider that successful? Of course not. And even if you delivered everything you said you would, if they don't get the results, they'll probably blame you because they didn't get the results.
So what if, instead, you ask questions that said, Okay, so here's what success looks like. Let me ask you, even if we delivered everything we said we would deliver, it's possible that you still might not get the results you need. What might prevent you from getting the results that we talked about, even if we do everything we said we would do? And the client is likely to highlight things, deficiencies in their own processes that would impede their ability to see results. And oftentimes, those things they raise are areas where you offer additional services to help with that.
They might say, well, if our people didn't have the right training if they didn't have the right attention to detail. Okay? Would it be helpful in the proposal, should we include training for your people, and do you want someone on our end to be assigned as a dedicated project manager to make sure everything gets implemented properly? Now, when you're doing that, you're accepting a little more responsibility. But there's also potential for way more revenue.
See, Jim Cathcart, who is kind of a legend in the sales world, Jim and I had a conversation at a conference not too long ago, and Jim said, one of the biggest problems in sales is people use the term closing a sale. And nothing could be further from the truth because you're actually opening a relationship or building some sort of relationship at that point. So Jim suggested the idea of confirming the sale rather than saying closing the sale. And I think that's a great lesson. And so, I have adopted that as well. I think we need to be confirming the sale and confirming the results with people, rather than just focusing on the sale itself.
So let me give you a quick 30-second recap of the key information that I think you can apply to your business right away.
First, we need to make sure that we show up as someone who's there to solve, not sell. So, from that first interaction, if we're focused on just the sale, then the client doesn't quite have that trust, and when it gets towards the end, they might be fearing buyer's remorse. They don't want to move forward.
The second thing is that we want to always ask that question about what does success looks like for them and what are we going to measure together?
And the last one has to do with confirming the sale or confirming the results. Namely, even if we delivered everything we said, what would prevent you from getting the results that we talked about? And that way, the client will see that you're more committed to the results than the sale. That builds trust, and you might just find those deals that are dying in the 11th hour, all of a sudden, have a new breath of life, and you'll be less frustrated in those deals going sideways in the end.
See you next time.