But my pain is a sales lesson for you. And while my deals are dead (for now), you can use this to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you. So that you don’t get the same egg on your face that I have, I’m going to the answer the question:
Here are 5 tips to help you do just that:
#1 Iron out ALL the details
Put everything on the table. Your expectations, payment terms, delivery details, timelines, etc. Most verbal -> signature deaths happen because each party thinks they’re getting something a little different. But this wasn’t my sin, I’ve been doing this for years. If your proposals are too complex, I recommend using a spreadsheet template to go over the one-by-one details during the sales process.
#2 Build relationships with more than just your buyer
Even if she is the decision maker, you need a backup plan. This is where I got burned. I’d been talking to a founding vice president of the company, with full authority to make the buying decision. I got the verbal agreement, then my heart sunk when he left the company…along with the proposal on the desk of his predecessor (of whom I had no relationship). Had I built a connection with her, the deal would have gone through. When you get the verbal agreement, ask your buyer who you can work with if they are no longer available. Whatever you do, spread your wings inside an organization. Use job change alerts to monitor when your important CRM people change jobs.
Opportunity we should win is in jeopardy b/c our champion changed jobs. Pretty ironic seeing how we sell job change alerts software, huh?
— Kyle Porter (@kyleporter) July 17, 2013
#3 Move fast
When you get the agreement, don’t wait or the moment will go cold. Strike while the iron is hot. Know exactly the unique steps in your sales process to get paperwork authorized and walk your buyer through each of the steps. Ask them if you can go over the agreement on the spot. Whatever you do, it’s vital to not waste a lot of time creating your proposal document. I’ve seen it way too often, a reps hears the words they want, then takes way too long to put it on paper. Get that conversion process down cold.
#4 Confirm with their superior
Did you meet your buyer’s boss during the sales process? If so, you should email them a thank you after you receive the verbal from your buyer. Commend your buyer on a process well handled and put a simple question in the note to cement the fact that this is a done deal.
Dear Boss, I wanted to write and commend (buyer) on the way they’ve handled purchase of (insert product). We’re grateful for your business and looking forward to working together. We’re sending over the paperwork now. Was there anything you’d like to see or be included on?
#5 Visit them live
I have a prospect going through some major organizational changes. We both knew about these changes and thought we could get the deal in before they affected authorization. While my buyer wanted SalesLoft, it was a lower priority for them than it was for me. I knew the timeline was tight and I gave them too much time to make the decision. By the time they were ready, the organizational dynamics changed the authority structure. I should have gone and visited them. While many inside sales can’t afford an onsite visit, this one could. It was in my city and was a company I was 100% sure we could help. Had I shown up at their doors, I believe this deal would have gone through.
Rule of thumb: Time Kills Deals
If you feel like your deal is in jeopardy, it probably is. If the time is taking longer and longer to close than you thought, then something is up. Move in and don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers a bit. If you go down, you should go down knowing that you gave the deal all you had. These tactics can help, but you’ll have to be creative an come up with twists on your own. It would make my day to hear your own ideas on this.
A verbal close is nothing to phone home about. Get the signature and you can smile. Get the check and you can celebrate.