You may be doing all of the right things, making good use of your CRM to monitor your sales pipeline, analyzing data to see what is working and what isn’t, and coaching your sales representatives accordingly. But you may be missing sales opportunities that are right under your nose – sales bottlenecks. These are sales that have the potential to close, but for some reason they don’t. The following are types of sales bottlenecks that you may be experiencing and what to do to fix them.
#1 The Leads Bottleneck
Not everyone is ready to buy when they express interest in your product. The bottleneck that arises when prospects are marked “not ready to buy” is that they are overlooked and salespeople move on to other leads, or they are not properly nurtured until they are ready to buy. These are warm prospects who have expressed genuine interest in your product, yet they are not being followed up on.
Solution: You need to develop a process that includes every warm lead, even those that are not yet ready to buy. A lead-nurturing campaign will let your prospect know that they are still important to you and increase the chances of a closed sale when they decide the time is right to buy.
#2 The Gatekeeper Bottleneck
Everything seems to be going right with a prospect – you’ve made a great pitch, they ask all of the appropriate questions and show interest in your product. You feel like a closed sale is imminent and you write up a sales proposal, only to find out that you have been dealing with a gatekeeper, not a decision-maker. There is nothing more disappointing than hearing the words, “now I’ll pass this on to management for their decision.”
Solution: You have to do your homework and know ahead of time who the decision-makers are. While it never hurts to build a rapport with the gatekeeper (after all they usually are the people who can connect you with the decision-makers) you want to get to the person or people who actually have the authority to make the purchase.
#3 The Negotiation Bottleneck
During the sales process, you are always going to find those people who ask you for discounts or better deals, no matter what your pricing looks like. If you feel like this is becoming more of the rule instead of the exception, there is a solution.
Solution: The key to handling this type of bottleneck is to be prepared. Have a plan beforehand of what you are willing to concede. When the negotiation commences, start a little higher that what you are willing to accept. That way when you give the buyer a discount, you are really getting what you want, and the customer feels like they have negotiated successfully.
#4 The Face-to-Face Bottleneck
Most businesses conduct at least a portion of their sales pitches face-to-face. Typically, these types of sales presentations are reserved for the most viable prospects, and they are made by the best salespeople. If you are finding that even your best sales reps are not closing the sale when it’s made face-to-face, you need to make some adjustments.
Solution: You may want to consider evaluating your pricing. It may be that your salespeople are doing a great job, your prospects are truly interested and see the benefits of your products, but the pricing is just wrong. Another solution is to offer customized pricing. That way you can give a valuable lead a reasonable price without adjusting your prices overall.
#5 The Closing the Deal Bottleneck
The prospect was interested, in fact, they were very interested in your product. Communication throughout the sales process has been smooth and uncomplicated. And then, poof! The prospect goes silent. This type of bottleneck may be the most frustrating because you feel like everything is going right and then it’s full stop. The tendency is to think that silence means they have lost interest, but that may not always be the case.
Solution: There may be a logical explanation for a loss of contact – something as simple as a vacation or all-consuming project. The solution is to make sure that you have a fool-proof follow-up process and be persistent. They were interested in your product, find out what the reason is for the silent treatment so you can come up with a resolution.