Sales managers invest a lot of time teaching and coaching their teams how to gain access to decision makers and buying influences. These are the deal makers that carry titles such as economic buyer, technical buyer, user buyer and champions -- and the list goes on.
It’s equally important to teach your sales team how to uncover and meet with the anti-buying influence: the deal breakers.
Deal breakers are the visible -- and often, the not-so-visible -- individuals that send salespeople’s pitches to die in the company proposal graveyard. There are a variety of reasons that deal breakers sabotage business deals.
Some of them worry that your solution will point out deficiencies in their department. They worry that this discovery will cast doubt on their ability to lead a department -- even when your salesperson’s intent is to help this person or department achieve more or do better.
Sometimes deal breakers think your solution will create more work for their department. And who wants that? (They believe that though they have no data by which to make that conclusion.)
Your deal breakers may have had a bad experience with another salesperson that overpromised and underdelivered. (No wonder they are skeptical of you and your product.)
The best sales producers I work with are good at identifying deal breakers early in the sales process. As a result, they avoid the proposal graveyard. These sales producers are assertive and comfortable asking the truth-telling questions to uncover the missing decision maker, the deal breaker. Here are some of my favorite questions to ask, gathered from clients over the years, that help them get to the truth -- and to find the deal breakers fast.
- Where will you get the most resistance in making this decision/change?
- What person/department is going to feel like this initiative is a bad idea?
- What position(s) will be eliminated or negatively affected by this change?
- Give me an example of a time when your organization got stuck trying to implement a major change. Who or what was the reason?
- In the past, when you’ve initiated a major change, what other advisors did you consult with to ensure good decision making?
- Who’s the person that you know that I should know, but I don’t.
Seek out the deal breakers and learn their story. Once you do so, you’ll have a better idea of how to sell and service them.
Your deal breaker may just become one of your biggest deal makers.