Complex B2B deals involve consensus-building. As you work through the various individuals and organizations, your goal is to create a snowball effect, so that the decision to buy gradually becomes inevitable. Moving a complex B2B sale forward thus means building momentum through a series of small "closes," each of which creates additional consensus.
The key to this momentum building process is to get as many stakeholders as possible to make some kind of public commitment to your idea. A public commitment might be agreeing to introduce you at a meeting, or an email sent to other stakeholders, or taking you down the hall to talk to another individual. When you've got enough of these alliances and coalitions (symbolized by these public commitments) the final "close" is a mere formality.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? Not so fast. There are five roadblocks that can prevent you from getting that all-important public commitment. This post describes those roadblocks, moving from the lowest roadblock to two that can sometimes be deal-killers. More importantly, this post describes exactly how to overcome these roadblocks to close the deal!
CLICK for the first roadblock Â»
Note: This post is based based on an interview with G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, authors of The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas.
ROADBLOCK #1: No Relationship
- Description: A person whose agreement is required to build a complete consensus does not know you or your firm.
- Why It Blocks Sales: With no prior relationship with an individual, you'll probably be treated with suspicion. By contrast, if you DO have a prior relationship, it will influence the way the individual views you and your potential contribution.
- Your Action Item: Prior to seeking the public commitment, have people who DO know you set up a private meeting with that stakeholder. Meet with the stakeholder, build rapport, investigate needs, and build a relationship. Only then do you set up a situation for that stakeholder to make a public commitment.
ROADBLOCK #2: Lack of Credibility
- Description: The stakeholder does not see you as a credible contributor and is therefore unwilling to make a public commitment.
- Why It Blocks Sales: Credibility is one of those "magic words" in business - everyone wants it. it? It consists of impressions in your customers' minds about your product or service and about you are a person. Do they think you know what you are talking about? If not, red light. Do they consider you reliable? If so, green light. Can you and your product be trusted to deliver? BIG green light. If not, full stop.
- Your Action Item: Always present yourself in a highly professional manner. Exude confidence in your ability to add value. Be utterly and completely prepared for every meeting. Quickly admit when you don't know the answer to a question; then commit to find the answer. Then do it.
ROADBLOCK #3: Mismatched Communication Styles
- Description: You're using words that the stakeholder doesn't understand, or communicating using a medium that the stakeholder dislikes.
- Why It Blocks Sales: Different vocabularies create confusion and missed expectations. For example, most engineers think the word "solution" is stupid and think anybody who uses it is an idiot. Similarly, some people are resistant to certain communication methods. For example, an executive might greatly prefer a formal presentation to an informal chat.
- Your Action Item: Find out from your other customer contacts the best method to communicate with each stakeholder. Then use that method. Communicate with each stakeholder using a vocabulary that the stakeholder will understand and consider appropriate.
ROADBLOCK #4: Incompatible Beliefs
- Description: The stakeholder has beliefs and values that tend to conflict with your beliefs and values.
- Why It Blocks Sales: When people can't agree on basic premises, it becomes difficult to communicate effectively. For example, an IT manager who's bought IBM all his career is likely to strongly resist switching to another vendor. WARNING: This roadblock can be a deal killer!!
- Your Action Item: You can't change somebody else's belief system. It's just not possible. If there is a conflicting value or belief, decide whether its possible to get the decision made without this individual's support. If that's not possible, bail. It's not a real opportunity.
ROADBLOCK #5: Conflicting Self-Interests
- Description: What you're offering is simply not in the self-interest of the stakeholder.
- Why It Blocks Sales: There's an old saying: "where you sit is where you stand." If your idea threatens the career of an individual, you'll get major resistance. Example: an IT director might fight against an outsourcing deal because it would mean stripping him of all his people and authority. WARNING: This roadblock can be a deal killer!!
- Your Action Item: Either figure out how to align your offering with this individual's self-interest, or figure out how to get the decision made without this individual's support. If that's not possible, bail. It's not a real opportunity.
To close a complex deal, you must get a public commitment from multiple stakeholders Here are the five roadblocks, and how to overcome them. Click on the roadblock to get more information.:
- #1: No Relationship -- Set up get-to-know meetings before asking for a public commitments.
- #2: Lack of Credibility -- Build credibility through consistently professional appearance and behavior.
- #3: Mismatched Communication Styles -- Use the vocabulary and venue that's most natural to each individual stakeholder.
- #4: Incompatible Beliefs -- If the deal cannot be closed without consensus from this stakeholder, bail.
- #5: Conflicting Self-Interest -- If you cannot align your offering with the stakeholder's self interest and the deal cannot be closed without consensus from that stakeholder, bail.