Entrepreneur, seasoned sales and customer success executive with 18+ years in sales and relationship management with customers in US and EME Entrepreneur, seasoned sales and customer success executive with 18+ years in sales and relationship management with customers in US and EMEA. Extensive experience in orchestrating startups and managing diversified multi-cultural teams of engineering, research and client services. VP of Customer Success at IdealRatings Inc. Author of "Mastering B2B Sales" Udemy Course. BSc. in Engineering and MBA from Maastricht school of management, Netherlands.
Sales are a puzzle game and even top sale champions are daily facing challenges of reaching out to potential customers, developing business cases, convincing different stakeholders, and closing deals.
Things are even more complex when it comes to new entrepreneurs who worked hard to develop their product or idea and need to get their first contract signed. Many first-time entrepreneurs take it personally that they have difficulties closing their first deals or that their ideas are not working out. However, there could be many other reasons that contribute to the failure of closing your first or first few deals. Here are some of the biggest challenges and unusual reasons why customers won’t buy your product.
Your customer is not an early adopter
“I don’t want someone to practice haircutting on me,” one of my potential customers said, raising his concern about a new product I was offering him. One of the main objections you might face would be the lack of references for your service’s true impact, performance, or results.
Obviously, procrastinators would find enough reasons to fear working with you. You need to work slowly with these customers in order to build relations and show the added value and return on investment. You also need to extend your prospect list – there are many early adopters who are willing to take some risk with new products in exchange for enough warranties against losses, extended trial periods, or just because you managed to build the trust.
Your customer had a bad experience
Bad experience comes in many forms: perhaps a similar product never delivered what it promised, a man who’s not in love with technology, insurance brokers with whom you’re representing the business, or simply with salespeople in general.
You have to figure out the real reason behind that bad experience and try to build customer confidence in yourself. If the issue refers to a product previously purchased, then offer a trial and test time. If the issue is about salesmen in general, build personal credibility with your potential customer.
Most clients won’t buy from someone they do not trust. I once met a customer, while working for a startup, who said that he had a problem with foreign entrepreneurs in the US because they generally were unorganized, and mainly selling “the American dream.” We had a long way to go to build trust on the personal level, but eventually, we invited him to perform a full due diligence on us to prove that foreign entrepreneurs can do a good job, too.
Your product timing is poor
Just face it. Sometimes you’re too late. You came when your competitor just issued the purchase order, when the market conditions were unfavorable, or just when they had higher-priority projects to finish before working with you. In all cases, you have to make the best of it.
Make sure you build credibility and give enough details about your products. After that ask for keeping the door open for follow-ups every once in a while, when conditions are better. Alternatively, you can always ask for a referral to other potential clients who can leverage your product or service.
Your product doesn’t fit
This is simple. If your product is not the best in the market, your prospects aren’t good. If you tried your best to impress the customers and to present the product to them, after assessing their needs, and you realized that it truly doesn’t fit; you have to be honest to yourself, and go back to the drawing board.
Before you go, make sure to take notes about their feedback and what they look for to solve their problem. This is very important to your company, to study and to develop what you need to break through this market segment
Your product has nothing unique
Another common reason for failing to close a deal is that your product just isn’t different from what is already available. If your company is the new kid on the block, and you’re not providing any unique features that add value to your customer, then there won’t be any motive for them to go with your product.
You need to work on developing values for your product at least through after-sales services levels, pricing, and availability to make it lucrative for your potential customer to take the risk.
Your customer has a stake with current supplier
You’ll face this sometimes, some of your customer stakeholders have a stake with the current supplier. This stake is not necessarily financially related, it could be a psychological one, as they were part of developing their product or due to having a good relationship with its founders. You need to figure out what the true relation is, check the market, with their colleagues, and with the other stakeholders.
Focus on presenting how your product helps the organization more than the current provider’s product. Build good relations with the other stakeholders to make it harder for them to stand against a good product. However, this is a complex situation, that needs wise and long-term treatment. Be patient.
Your customer is satisfied
Opposite to the previous reason, your customer might just be happy with their current supplier. If you feel this is a lost deal or a dead end: don’t. Instead: ask, ask and ask. Ask how long they’ve been with their current supplier – why is he happy with them? Service details? Features? Cost of investment?
If it’s all about long history, and you have competing features, then you have a chance. Your quality of service, lower investment cost, productivity improvement are all reasons for them to think of a substitute. Alternatively, you might be a complementing service to what he currently has, and take this as an entry to grow your services over time.
Your customer procrastinates
You’ll at some point deal with a customer who continuously procrastinates. The main reason for procrastination is fear. Fear of making a wrong decision, spending money in the wrong place, losing face with partners, peers or managers. Fear of spending too much money or of making mistakes.
Closing deals with uncertain or frightened customers requires trust; trust in you, your company, and your product. This means long hours of working on building trust with them; giving trials, comparisons, and case studies that support their position. It also requires building trust with their team of influencers, evaluators or decision makers. You need to help them all making the decision as a natural step of the long working hours you invested together.
You never asked for closure
This is silly but it does happen. I’ve witnessed many salespeople who lost deals simply because they never asked to close. They go, build trust, present benefits, build relationships but never send a closure offer, as they’re insecure of doing it. There’s nothing much to overcome except your inner insecurities. My advice here is simple, you need a deal: go get it.
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