Jeanne Buchanan
Feb 18, 2014

You thought the deal was done a long time ago. But while your sponsor says the deal is yours, he hasn’t been able to get on the senior executive’s calendar to discuss it. And now Procurement is involved.  With that old adage, “Time kills deals,” playing in your head, it’s time to regroup.

These six steps will help you develop a strategy that reenergizes the sales cycle.

  1. Reconstruct your messaging to regain momentum.  Buyers focus on those issues that directly impact their business.  Replay why your customer wanted your solution in the first place—what problem were they trying to solve?  What benefit would they realize (personally and professionally) by solving this issue?  Articulate the value of your solution and its ability to solve your customer’s problem in the same quantitative terms they use.
  2. Get out the org map.  Redraw your lines of influence to be sure you’ve covered all decision authority routes.  Craft and deliver a message of urgency to each of them that addresses their specific individual interest, and collectively builds consensus among the decision-making team about how you, your product, and your company solve problems and provide value to them.  What is the cost of them doing nothing? Now that Procurement is involved, assess and include the appropriate Procurement team member as part of your selling strategy. Where are they on the org map? What message needs to be delivered so they view you and your offerings positively, not just for the business, but for them?
  3. To most effectively deliver your message, broker a meeting with Procurement and your sponsors.  To be successful, you need to view Procurement as an opportunity waiting to be exploited and an audience waiting to be taught.  Acknowledge that Procurement has a job to do, often having to deliver on mandates from the CFO to drive validated savings. Demonstrate how you, your processes, and your solutions can help them.  Educate them about what you and your sponsors have done to date to reach a buying conclusion, taking into consideration factors like risk, strategic fit, and compliance.  At the same time, learn about the aspects of the competitive tender process.
  4. Share your business case and review the project/implementation plan with Procurement to facilitate the deal getting through the purchasing process.  With your sponsor and Procurement aligned to get the deal done sooner versus later, Procurement becomes part of the solution rather than just providing compliance oversight.
  5. Update your Decision Maker and Approver on the expected project/implementation kickoff and steps you and Procurement have agreed to.  This keeps them “in the boat” and Procurement is on record.  At the same time, agreement from your customer’s control point of spending greases the skids for others on the decision-making team to line up behind the deal.
  6. Assumptive closes will create urgency:
  • Have draft communications to launch the project/implementation ready for their review.  “Do they fit the bill?”
  • Ask to calendar the kickoff for the project/implementation team.  “Do any of these dates work for you?”
  • Ask to schedule a thank you for the business meeting “Top to Top.”  “What dates are you available?”

Enabling win-win-win through effective relationship building with Procurement and communication of value with all members of the decision-making team is the secret to unstalling your deal.  It is knowing what that value is and communicating it like your deal depends on it…because it does.


Jeanne Buchanan
Dec 19, 2013

I'm back from a long weekend in New York City to celebrate my sister's milestone birthday.  While there, her daughter (my niece) lost her driver's license.  She didn't realize  it until she got a call during dinner from her husband in Houston.  A doctor from Pennsylvania who was attending a conference in NYC found the license in Times Square.  She used LinkedIn to try to find my niece, found her husband instead, and called his office.  Ever grateful, my niece claimed her license the next morning at Starbucks.

We all know the power of LinkedIn in selling--prospecting, introductions, org mapping.  But it's a great sleuthing tool for making connections--in all kinds of situations! 


Jeanne Buchanan
Dec 4, 2013

My CPS colleague Joe Foley wrote an article recently on closing a sale.  He covered some reasons why salespeople and customers have difficulty closing.

Generally, for salespeople, the difficulty arises from either business reasons or personal reasons.

Business Reasons

  • Lack of customer knowledge
  • Lack of application knowledge
  • Lack of preparation

Business reasons are often about not being well-prepared.  You can remedy this by doing your homework or getting some coaching. 

Personal Reasons

  • Fear of losing
  • Lack of motivation
  • "I'm having a bad day.  Leave me alone."
  • Dull customer:  "I would rather spend time at the dentist."
  • Intimidation:  "This customer scares me."

Personal reasons are much more emotion-based.  In either case, check what is holding you back and do what you need to do to move forward.

Customers have difficulty committing, too.  There are a variety of reasons that customers may be reticent to commit. Among them:

  • Fear.  "I don't have enough information..."
  • Nerves.  "I'm not sure I have the authority..."
  • Buyer's Remorse.  "I wish there was another company I felt better about..."
  • Guilt.  "I like my current vendor.  I hope they don't take it personally."
  • Anxiety.  "My budget won't cover..."
  • Doubt.  "Is this the right way?  The right time?"

While you may perceive your customer is having difficulty committing, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, get in the habit of utilizing a trial close.

Conducting a Trial Close

A good trial close provides you with key customer feedback on how well your solution meets his needs.  It clarifies what he is thinking and if he truly is the decision-maker.  A good trial close signals his willingness to commit and surface any hidden objections.

  • Ask for your customer’s opinion.
  • Ask about recent buying decisions and criteria used to make them.
  • What does your customer like/dislike about your offer?
  • Why would he not close?  Get him to tell you the reasons.
  • Ask him for the top three advantages to your solution.

If there are no objections, you are ready to close.

Joe's article also addresses how to handle objections and match closing techniques to personality styles.  Click here to read the whole article.