5 “Out of the Box” Changes to Make If Your Sales Pipeline is Stuck
Just like the ones under your kitchen sink, a sales pipeline can clog—and right in the middle of negotiations, at that. In their haste to simplify the customer experience, many companies inadvertently complicate the seller experience and require sales representative to go beyond being a people person. They expect their sales team to provide real-time answers to customers’ queries every time they have a question while also becoming excellent listeners and trusted advisers.
Gartner reports that these added expectations can overburden sales representatives by as much as 62%! Needless to say, overly complex internal processes and procedures—albeit well-intentioned to improve the customer experience—stretch sales teams thin. And you guessed it, sales teams stretched too thin are a perfect recipe for clogged sales pipelines.
What Causes Sales to Stall?
Salespeople in need of a sale will often get a bit desperate as the month’s end nears. This can lead them to mistakenly believe that they can still salvage their previous unsuccessful deals. Instead of formally closing the book on these failed attempts, they will retain these deals in the sales pipeline. Meanwhile, the rest of the organization remains hopeful that these dead transactions can still end up as valuable.
Similarly, sellers who have little awareness of when to declare deals as unsuccessful will always have trouble managing their sales pipeline. To them, every unresolved transaction is still in play.
The Client is Apprehensive or Unsure
For many decision-makers, risk avoidance is a major consideration. Even if the offered product has the potential to solve the customer’s problem, they might remain hesitant due to identified risks. Meanwhile, some buyers are unwilling to stake their professional or personal reputation on solutions with success rates below 100%. Even if the product carries a best-in-market classification, these customers will not gift their support unless they can be sure they’re making the right choice. Failing to instill that confidence during your product presentation will likely prompt them to wait until the next best thing comes along.
Lack of Proper Nurturing
In the mad rush to hit their quotas at the end of the sales month, many salespeople will make the mistake of transferring the pressure to sell to customers by pressuring them to buy. Unsurprisingly, this strategy seldom works, mainly because buyers only buy if it conveniently fits their needs. Conversely, a reluctance to make follow-up calls or an unwillingness to strengthen client relationships won’t gain much sympathy from clients. If this is the case, don’t expect the clients to be upfront about their plans or even give you the courtesy of an outright rejection.
A sales rep with a strong relationship with a client knows they will only need to present solutions and then give enough space for them to mull things over. Knowing to not apply unwanted pressure on customers when they’re about to make a purchase decision is a valuable skill that comes with nurturing clients.
They Simply Forgot About You
Customers swamped with offers from competing sellers often have their hands full sorting out proposals and choosing the winner. In the course of selecting who ends up with the deal, the buyer will often rank the sellers in order of preference. During the entire proceeding, customers will often focus their attention on the winning suitor. If that organization is not the one where you work, you shouldn’t expect much in terms of communication. In some cases, buyers won’t even take time to extend the courtesy of informing other bidders except the winner that they reached a decision earlier.
Unblocking the Sales Pipeline
Now that we’ve identified what clogs the sales pipeline, let’s now go over measures on how to decongest it. Not all pending deals can or need to be saved. However, it would be great to know which ones are still worth the effort.
Unblocking a stalled sales pipeline can either mean keeping deals from stalling or getting stalled deals to move again. One requires preventing the deal from grinding to a halt. The other requires rescuing a deal from being stuck in the mud.
1. Encourage Customers to Make a Decision by Addressing their Objections
Clients who hold off on signing the deal are often reluctant for many reasons. These can be holding out for a better price, them thinking your competitor might make a better offer altogether or just being unsure of the proposal as a whole. To address these objections and prevent the deal from turning sour, consider building your sales presentation around common objections to get ahead of them. This might be presenting information about your experience, showcasing testimonials from customers or sharing a detailed project timeline.
2. Sharpen Your Skills in Objection Handling
To successfully head off buyers’ attempts to freeze pending deals, your team should learn the art of objection handling. It means establishing a connection with the objector and diving down deep into why they seem to oppose getting a deal done. Objection handling doesn’t necessarily mean contradicting the ideas. Sometimes, it’s better to get on their side to show you understand their concerns and that while you may not be able to solve all of them, you can do better than other options out there.
3. Declutter Your Sales Team’s Burdens
By reexamining your current sale journey, you can identify inefficiencies and improve processes. If clients seem to show appreciation for your proposals but have trouble understanding your value proposition, you might want to reconsider your presentation methods and tools. In addition, empowering customers does not necessarily mean overburdening the sales team with unfulfilled expectations. To do so, your organization should provide salespeople with more tools to help nurture customer relationships such as interactive presentation software.
4. Re-Engage with Clients with Pending Deals
Similarly, freeing up deals that are frozen in time can help you re-engage your client or allow you to move on. However, you’ll need to learn how to prioritize. Considering that not all pending deals are set to end successfully, your team will have to confront themselves. The first step will require them to identify which deals remain salvageable and which ones require pulling the plug already. Are customers waiting for a better deal so that they can finally say yes? If a better deal is available, why not show it now while negotiations are still ongoing? Otherwise, cut your losses and move on.
5. Add a Decision-Maker to the Team
Another scenario where unresolved deals slowly die involves an obvious lack of decision-makers. If clients continue to complain that their questions get few answers, then you might need to assign an authority figure to help out. Having a decision maker such as a sales manager or team supervisor on board can mean much-improved response times. In addition, smaller objections involving price or delivery times are best left answered by people who are actually in charge of these things.
Decongest the Sales Pipeline With Interactivity from Ingage
The best way to handle objections is by anticipating them ahead of time. Using interactive presentation software can help create sales presentations that provide the information clients need to make an informed decision.
Ingage is cloud-based interactive presentation software that can provide your clients with all the details they need to make quick decisions. With its powerful sharing options, Ingage allows entire teams to collaborate on a single presentation deck and share ideas remotely. Sharing finished presentations with clients is a matter of sending a clickable link to recipients so they can view it in their own time.
Learn more about how Ingage can help you create compelling and engaging interactive presentations. We’ll gladly arrange a free demonstration for you to see Ingage’s powerful story-telling features firsthand!