I published this post 2 years ago and resurrected & modified it based on more recent experiences.
We had a great whale hunting session working with the Asia/Pacific sales team of an international company. This company specializes in “spend management.” They help their customers significantly reduce their purchasing costs for many goods and services.
In the course of the workshop, this team reached a very interesting and unexpected insight about their most promising business deals, which was this:
We are not closing the proposals that demonstrate the very best ROI for our prospects. In fact, on our very best proposals, where we believe we can have the biggest positive impact for our customers, we are only closing 20%.
How would we explain that apparent anomaly? Something’s going on that they don’t understand.
From a logical standpoint, the solution they offer in these best-of-class cases is a slam-dunk no brainer for the client. Yet after they present these proposals, the whales stall, ask for more time to consider, postpone their decision. They back off from the whole deal. In whale hunting terms, the whale is afraid of something or perhaps many somethings.
If you’re making great cost-savings proposals that your prospects are not buying, here are some underlying reasons that you might consider. I’ve also suggested “fear busters,” ways to alleviate each of the fears:
- Your proposal sounds “too good to be true.” The whale is afraid you cannot or will not make good on your promise. [This fear is alleviated by customer testimonials.]
- The whale does not fully understand how you will go about achieving this benefit and is afraid that your solution may cause unforeseen problems with their employees or vendors. [This fear is alleviated by process maps and illustrations to demonstrate the simplicity of your implementation.]
- The whale is afraid of making a mistake, leaving it with an untried system or process or solution or product which might produce a short-term gain but will soon become obsolete and dysfunctional. [This fear is alleviated by white papers, case studies, and customer testimonials.]
- The whale is afraid that your solution is better suited for a different kind of enterprise than the whale’s. [This fear is alleviated by multiple case studies from different industries and by a clear process illustration that is not industry-specific.]
- The whale does not need “the best” solution and the potential disruption that its implementation might cause–it only needs a “good enough” solution. [This fear is alleviated by evidence of your solution’s simplicity and elegance.]
- The whale has other pains, problems, and opportunities that are more urgent or more important than the issue you propose to solve. [This fear is alleviated with conversation and empathy.]
If you ever experience this kind resistance in your sales process, work with your team to brainstorm all of the possible explanations for the whale’s resistance. Even better, talk to the whales that have resisted your proposal and find out why. You may be amazed at the reasons you did not anticipate.
And once you better understand the fears, work hard to identify “fear busters” that you can put on the table to alleviate those fears. Check out our “fear busters” worksheet to aid you!