Funnel Evaporation

There’s a prospect I’d been call­ing on, for sev­eral months.   Their project has started and stopped sev­eral times this year, but this past month we were hot and heavy on the clos­ing trail.

We’d agreed on final sys­tem con­fig­u­ra­tion, made arrange­ments for alter­na­tive financ­ing, and come to agree­ment on final pricing.

Inter­face specs had been blessed by all par­ties involved.   Work flow adjust­ments and improve­ments were approved.

Finally, we had com­mit­ment from the prospect that the deci­sion mak­ing process was at the end.  A pre­sen­ta­tion would be made to the ulti­mate deci­sion mak­ers at their sched­uled monthly meet­ing for final consent.

That meet­ing was on a Wednes­day evening.   Dur­ing a final walk-through meet­ing that same Wednes­day morn­ing, in prepa­ra­tion for the big pre­sen­ta­tion, our prospect com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing feed­back regard­ing the meet­ing out­come, that next day,  Thursday.

You guessed it!   Thursday.…Friday.…Monday came and went.   No phone call, no e-mail, noth­ing.   We had been vic­tim­ized by that old vil­lain in the “sale evap­o­ra­tion” story.…

You know this story, you’ve most likely­been there.   One of your many prospects had been cycled all the way through the sales process, was sup­posed to trickle out of the bot­tom of the prover­bial “sales fun­nel”, but the deal just “evaporated”.

You didn’t “lose” the sale to a com­peti­tor, it just kind of van­ished in to thin air.

Oh yeah, and the Vil­lain in the story?   It was me !

In some types of product/service solu­tions, it’s next to impos­si­ble to actu­ally inter­act with the ulti­mate deci­sion maker(s) dur­ing the sales process.  For a vari­ety of rea­sons, many orga­ni­za­tions make it impos­si­ble to pen­e­trate the wall of secrecy that pro­tects the “com­mit­tee” that makes final decisions.

This mys­te­ri­ous group of peo­ple could be the part­ners, board of direc­tors, or an actual com­mit­tee.   Sales­peo­ple get stuck dealilng with the “project lead” for the entire sales process.   Frequently, the prospect orga­ni­za­tion inten­tion­ally mis­leads or dis­guises the true deci­sion mak­ing process.

In some com­pa­nies, the “project lead” is sim­ply appointed, and unin­formed.    It could be the Direc­tor of the area or depart­ment where your solu­tion will solve what­ever problem(s) you’ve uncov­ered dur­ing your dis­cov­ery phase.  The pit­fall with this appointed project lead, is they ra rely have ever been engaged in an endeavor like your sales process, or in their inter­nal deci­sion mak­ing process for that matter.

I’m not say­ing don’t get engaged with these types of prospects.   By all means, engage them, but walk up slowly, every step of your sales process.   If you remem­ber back to my expe­ri­ence above, the project had started and stopped a few times over the year.   Although I knew up front, that  I wouldn’t be deal­ing with the ulti­mate deci­sion mak­ers, I con­vinced myself we were fur­ther along in the process, and felt we were in the nego­ti­at­ing stage.   The rapid progress that we made over the past 30 days, help fuel my enthu­si­asm and clouded my bet­ter judgment.

I’m not giv­ing up on this sale, I don’t believe the oppor­tu­nity has evap­o­rated (like some of my deals truly have).   I think I’ll adjust my vision a lit­tle, take off the rose col­ored glasses, and reevaluate.

The cus­tomer finally did call me back.…on Tues­day.   They offered some limp excuses about the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and fum­bled through some weak objec­tions and pos­si­ble alter­na­tives to my solu­tion.    After recon­sid­er­ing, I may not be in the nego­ti­a­tion stage, or maybe I am.

But the expe­ri­ence reminds me, that if I can’t have access to the true deci­sion mak­ers, I shouldn’t talk myself into a better-than-reality sce­nario.    That means, when mark­ing off the com­pleted phases of the sale that I must go through, I’m going to err on the con­ser­v­a­tive side next time.

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One Response to “ Funnel Evaporation ”

  1. Hired Gun says:

    Wel­come to the club

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