Stalled Deals: 4 Strategies for Staying Out of the Friend Zone

May 21, 2014 Nancy Nardin

25440528 m2 Stalled Deals: 4 Strategies for Staying Out of the Friend ZoneYou know the feeling. You hang up from a sales call, turbo-pumped with adrenalin, giving yourself a mental high-five. You ‘nailed it!’ Your confidence is soaring and you’re positive the prospect is equally excited. This is what happens when you truly connect and have a conversation that feels mutually beneficial to both parties. Taking the next step comes naturally and without hesitation.

It is at this point, the “golden sales moment”, when the level of enthusiasm is at its highest for both the buyer and the seller.

The golden sales moment is just that, however, a mere moment in time. It’s fleeting. From there, the buyer’s enthusiasm is on a track from marriage material to the “friend zone.” You’ve got to close the deal before they get there. The “friend zone” is precisely where deals stall. It’s virtually impossible to close a deal from within the friend zone.

Why do sellers end up in the friend zone when originally, the future looked so bright? A big reason is F.U.D (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

When people begin to feel skeptical, fearful, dispassionate, or insecure, they invariably retreat behind a plume of questions or worse, go radio silent.

Will the product really do what I’m told it will do? Will I really be able to deploy it (with our resources, skills and timeframe)? Will I really experience the promised results? Do I really need it? Notice these questions have to do with ‘believability.’ The foundation of their belief is cracking, and into these cracks fall those nasty little seeds of doubt.

That is a major problem, because people don’t buy when they have F.U.D.

According to CSO Insights, more than half of forecasted deals end in no decision.”  In other words, after participating in what is often a lengthy sales-cycle, the customer decided not to do a darned thing. Doing nothing is what people do when they no longer believe the product is needed—or able—to accomplish the task, or that they themselves lack the passion or the capability required to make it happen (the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ excuse). Each of these two forms of rationale are worthy of lengthy examination on their own, but the bottom line is, the seller is left standing at the altar, alone and bewildered.

Here are some game-changing strategies to keep deals from stalling-out due to F.U.D.

  1. The first step to acknowledge its existence and give credence to it. Do not argue against it. Say something like, “Every customer has had that same concern before they went on to buy.” Share relevant stories that bring to life the blinding apprehension that your current customers experienced (and eventually overcame) before purchasing your solution.
  2. Introduce your prospect to eager and supportive references that will not only talk about how happy they are now but will also describe their initial concerns and how they were overcome. Gather and use testimonies that describe the upfront hesitations and how they realized their fears were unfounded after they implemented your solution.
  3. Offer supporting content. Create documents that answer questions your buyers are likely to ask themselves at three stages of the sales-cycle—the early stage when enthusiasm is at its peak, the mid-stage when buyers begin to analyze things with a more critical, disapproving eye, and the end-stage when they are in need of a rock-solid reinforcement for their decision.
  4. Don’t overuse the rose-colored hue when you paint a picture for your buyer. Tell them, “this will take effort” or “your IT department is likely to challenge you” or “this will not be a straight-up trajectory.” The best strategy is to inform and prepare themor theyll be left in a state of uncertainty when things get difficult, and it will get difficult. Prepare them for every eventuality, the good and the bad. You’ll build an unassailable shield of commitment, credibility, and trust to protect against the effects of F.U.D.

It is a rare buyer indeed that doesn’t entertain doubts about their decision. And if you don’t readily sense it, it doesn’t mean they aren’t, this very minute, wondering how to break it to you gently. Be empathetic to their concerns then take the lead and deliver them from fear or you’ll end up in the friend zone where all deals go to die.

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