3 Reasons Why Your Deals Are Stalling

Learn how to avoid stagnant sales cycles and get your deals back on track.

August 4, 2016

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Today, B2B sales reps find it harder to deal with buyers who are savvier than ever: prospects have unprecedented access to information and options. But, guess what? Those same forces also make it harder for the customer.  

As you probably know if you’ve ever been involved in a B2B buying decision, the process takes a lot more decision-makers, considerations, and time than you’d expect. Buyers are faced with too much information, too many options, and too many cooks in the kitchen all trying to reach a consensus. Oftentimes, that difficult journey is actually at the root of your stalled sales deals.

If you understand why these deals get stuck in the first place, you can learn how to get them unstuck. Let’s look at three factors keeping your deal from moving forward, relying on insights from Brent Adamson, the principal executive advisor at CEB and author of the Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results.

1. More Buyers at the Table

An average of 5.4 decision-makers participate in a B2B buying decision, and research shows that the more people making the decision, the less likely you are to close a deal.

In fact, if there is only one purchaser, you’d have an 80% change of closing the deal. But that likelihood drops as more buyers join the process, plummeting to the 30% range when five or six people are involved, according to CEB.

2. Your Contact Lacks Influence

CEB’s analysis revealed that there are seven kinds of stakeholders at any organization—and if the one you’re liaising with is better at making coffee dates than motivating coworkers, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree.

The buyer profiles identified by CEB include the Go-Getter, a visionary always looking for new ideas and ways to move a strategy forward; the Skeptic, who loves new ideas though he or she picks them apart; the Teacher, a great motivator, if a poor implementer; the Friend; and even the Blocker (and we all may know one or two of these folks). You’d rather be talking to the Go-Getter or Skeptic than the Friend.

3. You’re Selling Change

Change is rarely easy—especially for big businesses. If you’re selling a radically new solution, that might be a major reason why your deal is going nowhere. “What’s the one thing most organizations want to avoid at all costs if they can?” Adamson asks. “Change. Why? Because it’s risky. It’s unknown. It’s scary. It’s disruptive.”

This aversion to change is especially common as a group of buyers makes a decision. That's because, as the CFO, COO, CMO, head of procurement, and chief counsel all gather for a meeting, they come with different priorities and agendas. Unfortunately, Adamson writes, sales reps can make this divergence of priorities even worse by tailoring their pitches towards each influencer’s unique pain points. 

When the buying group sits down to try to reach consensus, it may only be able to agree on one thing: avoiding risk. At that point, your number one competitor becomes the status quo.

Getting Over The Hump

The good news is that if you understand these three insights, you have a roadmap towards more sales. Adamson concludes that: "You have a choice as a seller and as a marketer about who you connect with in the customer’s organization.” He adds, “What we must do is tailor differently, better connecting individual stakeholders to each other.”

It turns out the most important step to keep a deal moving forward is finding the right personality who can be a change-maker and mobilize colleagues. Adamson identifies three such personalities: The Go-Getter, the Teacher, and the Skeptic. They’re looking for ideas, good at driving action, and are champions of your biggest obstacle: change.

Though you’ll still need to show them how the status quo is causing pain in their organization and how change can help, targeting and working with these “mobilizers” means you’ll have a better chance at moving your deal forward and closing the sale.

For more insights on why your sales are stalling, and how to effectively sell to today’s buyers, download our eBook: The Challenger Customer: The New Reality of Sales