I’ve been reviewing a bunch of deals in a client’s CRM system. There’s a disturbing pattern, as we start approaching the end of the month, all of a sudden the target close dates start getting pushed out. Deals we expected to close this month slip into the next month.
As I review the deal histories, I see the same pattern, month after month of slippage. I looked at one deal, the target close date had shifted 11 times in the past 6 months!
Deal slippage is a critical metric.
If deals continue to slip, it tells me the sales person has no understanding of the deal, the customer buying process, or the customer need to buy. Most likely, rather than driving the process, engaging the customer and helping them make a decision, the sales person is only responding, servicing the customer, and being an order taker rather than an order maker.
Of course, deals will slip, but repeated slips, month after month after month is absolutely unacceptable.
When I ask sales people about the deal, they can go into endless details about the activities they have gone through. But they tend not be to be able to respond to my questions, “What’s next?” “What does the customer need in order to make a decision?” or the ultimate, “Why’s the customer even looking at buying? What’s their need to buy? What happens if they don’t?”
Not being able to answer these questions means, “I don’t have a clue about what’s going on with this deal! I’m responding to the customer requests, I’m doing the best I can.”
This is not selling! This is not creating value!
The deal will continue to slip until the customer finally decides they need to buy. The only way to win these deals is through what should be avoidable pricing actions–usually winning the deal at the lowest price.
Deals don’t continue to slip month after month after month. If the customer has a real need to buy, there are consequences to not making a decision, not changing, and not putting the new solution in place. They have a deadline, by which they must have a solution in place.
Customers may struggle, their projects may start to slip, but if sales people are providing the right leadership, keeping the customer focused on why they entered into a buying process in the first place, slippage can be minimal.
Customers struggle with buying, which can cause deals to slip. But sales people providing leadership, helping facilitate the customers’ buying processes, minimize slippage.
Customers struggle with selling their management on what they want/need, causing deals to slip. Sales people helping their customers develop and execute buying strategies which are aligned with top management’s priorities and helping the customer recognize the need to sell and get top management support can help minimize this.
Deals will slip if they aren’t real, if sales people haven’t done the right job qualifying, and the customer isn’t committed to changing.
Are your deals slipping consistently? If they are, it’s a great clue that you aren’t providing the leadership and creating the value customers deserve and you need to win deals!
Originally posted on Dave’s Partners in EXCELLENCE blog.