Perhaps a business owner’s biggest frustration is seeing all those opportunities sitting in the pipeline, but nothing is closing. Proposals were presented. Prospects declared, “I’ll let you know.” But they haven’t, and now you don’t know what to do next.
When your reps get all the way through presenting the proposal and opportunities still aren’t closing, there are 3 steps you can take to figure out what to fix to increase your company’s close ratio.
1. Validate Opportunity Qualification
First, revalidate that all the opportunities are qualified. Yes, this is basic, but I can’t tell you how many times a rep has decided to work a prospect because there was a chance the deal might close.
They’ll wistfully share, “I know the company only has 10 people, and we said our minimum is 20, but I think they could really use our services.”
Qualify that each opportunity is the right:
- Type of company
You’ll find that at least 20% of the opportunities in your pipeline don’t meet your qualification criteria. It could be more.
You or the rep were hoping this time it would be different. This contact would be the exception to those qualification guidelines you so carefully defined.
Your qualification criteria serve an important purpose. They keep you from wasting valuable sales time on opportunities that have a low probability of closing based on your previous experience. Don’t ignore it. Work with your reps to ensure they’re qualifying prospects, and then re-qualifying throughout the sales process as they build relationships with their contacts.
2. Look Backward
Now that you’ve cleared out the unqualified opportunities, step back and re-examine those that are left in your pipeline. To figure out why they aren’t closing, look backward in your sell cycle for the answers. Closing starts from the first conversation and continues all the way to the point when you finally ask for the order. It’s glaringly obvious when you consider these 5 reasons proposals don’t close:
- Sold value versus benefits. The contact knows the price, but you haven’t linked the benefits of your solution to the value they’ll receive for their unique business. Clearly state the value in your proposal.
- Addressed all the needs. Speeding through the Identify Needs or Discovery stage of the sales process leaves gaps in your proposal. Be sure you’ve talked with enough people to define the complete scope.
- Answered all the questions. As your prospect reviews competitors’ recommendations, new questions emerge about your proposal. If you don’t check back to address new questions, your competition will answer them on your behalf – and it won’t be favorable.
- Handled hidden objections. Something is holding your prospect back and likely there are hidden objections they never expressed. Or, those objections may be coming from sources you have yet to meet. Continually ask questions to spot these concerns and ferret out all contacts.
- Identified the sense of urgency. Your contact has a reason for implementing your solution and you must uncover what their company’s urgency is in addressing their need. You can’t create it. If it’s not imperative to them, you don’t know how to reinforce the importance of moving forward.
3. Chase to the End
After examining each proposal, you have a good idea where there are gaps that could be causing prospects to stall. Now it’s time to reconnect with them and address each gap.
Chase opportunities all the way to the bitter end.
It’s only after you hear “no” and more importantly, “no, because…” that you can begin to improve your sales process and sales skills. Let’s not forget that what you learn will also help your company refine its offerings, pricing and target markets.
Follow up on all proposals until you find out what the situation is and can determine the next step.
For opportunities languishing in your pipeline, re-engage with your key contacts. Even proposals presented over a year ago may cover needs companies haven’t yet resolved. But, you won’t know until you pursue them.
Improve Your Sales Approach
You’ve worked hard to earn the right to present proposals to all those companies. Don’t let them sit in your pipeline because prospects haven’t made a decision – or disclosed what decision they did make. Take these 3 steps and determine what has to change in your sales strategy, then do it.
Begin with individual opportunities, then look more broadly at your overall sales process and selling style.
Your ultimate goal is to:
- Refine how you’re selling so you are presenting proposals only to qualified companies.
- Take the right actions during the sales process to move prospects to quick decisions.
Slight changes to your sales approach will increase your closing ratio.
If lingering opportunities and proposal closing are issues you are actively working to solve, give us a call. We can train you how to get to “Yes!” faster and consult with you to improve your sales process. Let’s increase your sales closing rate!