Addressing common stalls that can occur in the sales cycle, early in the process, can help you to avoid the stalls altogether. For B2B professional services transactions, the price tags are large, the sales cycles are long, the decision-makers can be numerous and always dynamic, so influencing the prospect in the way they go about selecting a solution provider is crucial. Equally as important in the process is when and how you deliver your messages regarding what and why certain events may occur in the sales cycle.
Begin by creating the tools that will assist your prospect throughout the selection process. These tools should also serve to position you as the proven expert and define the process in such a way that any competitors will be playing catch up. Address common objections in these tools – as a reasonable explanation to the objectives is better understood and absorbed before the issue arises (for example: reasons why the buyer should be wary of mid-cycle deep discounting).
This is exactly what it sounds like. Down the left side (X axis) are factors a prospect should consider when selecting your products and services. It would include the items that differentiate you from the competition. Those items could include features, specific expertise, the ability to speak to references that resemble the prospect (within their industry and geography, perhaps, or businesses that were looking to solve similar business issues, for example), deliverables on the depth and availability of support before, during and after the implementation, etc.
Along the top, (Y axis) would be the name of your firm and empty spaces for them to fill in the names of other competitors. Down your column, there would be check marks in all of the boxes and the boxes of your competitors would be empty.
Giving careful thought to this matrix can result in a selection process that is overwhelmingly in your favor. You have defined the process and subsequently have put your competitors in the role of answering to your criteria as adopted by the prospect.
5 Mistakes that will Sabotage a Successful Implementation
This is a White Paper or series of articles that address common objections and/or issues that may crop up in the sales process.
This is where you address the dangers of deep discounting by a competitor arming the prospect with reasonable and rationale arguments such as – the margin will be made up somewhere and will result in costly and unwelcome surprises down the line. It could come in the form of modules that were demonstrated not appearing on the final proposal. It could come in the form of substandard implementation. And, when the prospect needs the help the most, it could come in the form of absent or anemic support.
You may also want to nip “stalling” in the bud. If there is any aspect of your pricing that is seasonal position it as a benefit – “by making your decision in the timeframe outlined, you are taking advantage of what is typically a slow time for our firm. As a result, consulting time is priced lower. It is important to stay on schedule in order to take advantage of slow time pricing. If the project slips into a busier timeframe, the cost will go up.”
Consultants only have so many hours in a day, so abiding by the schedule is necessary. This is also true for the prospect. There may be seasonal issues that are important to their business and should be built into the timeline. Letting any stage of the timeline drag jeopardizes the business and puts undue stress on the organization.
Case Studies: Profiles of Success
An extensive library of detailed success stories come in very handy when influencing and then maintaining your position with the prospect. Example after example of successful implementations, realized ROI, and greater profitability as a result of your help, and as described by other customers, is extraordinarily convincing.
These can be distributed throughout the process and can be particularly effective if the case study subject matter directly applies to questions and concerns raised by the prospect.
3 Ways to Ensure and Accelerate Your Return on Investment
A third tool, again either a White Paper or a series of articles, should educated the prospect on the importance of exerting as much effort and energy to finishing out the project as they gave to the beginning of the project. With the goal in site, this is not the time to economize by scrimping on training. Look to your customer base for examples – is there a customer who did it on the cheap with another solution provider only to enlist your services at an additional cost down the line? Here’s the place to underscore the importance of getting done right the first time.
Finally, all of these tools should reside on your website so that they can work for you round the clock and give visitors plenty of opportunity to know, like and trust you.