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How to stop your prospects suddenly saying NO

Chris Field
Chris Field

There’s a growing trend in business for companies to say that the tech solution in front of them is exactly what they have been looking for, for years, but then they seem to lose focus and end up not buying.

Ask any tech company and they will have at least one recent example of this. They say: “The prospect even agreed it was a no brainer; the implementation was going to be easy, the cost no problem, and the KPIs were amazing.”

Stalling at the final fence

So, what happened? It’s a debate going on right now and no one really seems to have an answer, so here are a few clues that might help tech companies manage the last mile differently.

How often have you looked to buy a new TV? You get immersed in the world of TVs, do your research, visit countless web sites, talk to your friends, go into stores for demos and so on. And you may well end up buying at any point in that journey. Equally, which is just as common, you may end up buying nothing. Now, that may be down to a whole host of reasons; you get cold feet because while you felt rich at the start of the process, later you feel poor. Or you feel that the more you learn, the less you really know. Or you get distracted by something else you need to buy that takes precedence because your family said so. And so on.

Distractions creep in

It’s not really any different in business. Companies get distracted by new priorities which emerge daily. Sure, they have a roadmap for tech, but if your solution requires new budget rather than replacing existing tech, then you go from number one to dead last in a split second. Then add all the other reasons deals don’t get done today – new stakeholders who all have an opinion; Procurement taking greater control; key decision-makers changing roles etc.

Hazy procurement landscape

These are the facts of doing business today, and there is no longer any such thing as business as usual. So how can vendors navigate this uncertain procurement landscape? I think that the established sales process needs a few extra steps.

Most vendors have added various proof processes over the years – pilots, proofs of concept, reference site visits etc. but I am talking about trying to spot the moment when prospects start wobbling.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Time. Has the whole process lost the rhythm that it seemed to have earlier on? This may be the beginning of the end. You may not know it and even the prospect may not know it, but there appears to be a general weakening of the will. Excuses like holidays or sickness may be true but the underlying psychology is one of a slow turning away from making that decision.
  2. Money. Many companies in many sectors daily receive data that tells them how they are performing. This can cause them to react both positively and negatively depending not just on the hard facts of the data but on how they feel. If your solution requires new budget, then the prospect may simply start to feel they can’t afford it. The only thing the vendor can do is stick very close to the prospect and try to read some of the inputs, many of which will come from the public domain and news media.
  3. Confidence. No one wants to look like an idiot because they were the pioneer that failed. References are becoming more important than ever. Don’t assume that, because the prospect likes you and gets on with you, that they are not nervous about making a bad decision. Rely more heavily than ever on references, testimonials, brand names, case studies. Sure, getting your existing customers to agree to all this is always tough, but it can make all the difference.
    Fieldworks Marketing helps retail technology specialists raise their profile in a crowded market. Find out more about what we do by visiting our digital services section.
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