Put Offs that Sound OK

Your salespeople come back with good news and tell you that they spoke with the decision maker of the big opportunity they’ve been working on. They report that the decision maker told them they’re very interested in moving forward but want to wait until the close of their fiscal year (90 days away) or want to first complete a project they’re currently working on (60 days) before discussing further. Your salespeople are psyched. They try to get you psyched. You get psyched.

The problem is that you shouldn’t be the least bit happy about this. Assuming that this was a properly qualified opportunity, your salespeople took the easiest put-off in the business. This is the put-off that promises future business – much more exciting than the put-off where prospects need to compare your proposal with that of the competition.

As many as five variables are at play here:

  • Honesty – is the prospect truly interested in moving forward or are they just letting the salesperson down easily?
  • Recognition – did the salesperson hear a buying signal or recognize a put-off?
  • Skills – if the salesperson recognized the put-off, did they know what to do about it and how to do it?
  • Need for Approval – if recognized and equipped with skills, was the salesperson’s need for approval a dominant factor in allowing the put-off to go unchallenged?
  • Buy Cycle – as above, was the salesperson’s M.O. for buying services similar enough to his prospect’s so as to make their delay understandable?

Chances are, you don’t know the answers to these variables, putting you in very good company. Most in management can’t objectively evaluate these issues but would love to know the answers. The answers are available as part of Objective Management Group’s evaluation of your sales force. You can also learn more about these dynamics at play in Baseline Selling – How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.

(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.