When’s the last time you sat with a prospective or current client who was looking for a solution… and you recommended they pursue no solution at all?
I mean, your boss is on your case for producing more revenue for the company. You have sales quotas to meet, if you currently serve a sales function. And if you are in an engineering role, you certainly want to keep getting problems to solve. So what’s not to sell??? There are a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Get them to sign to contract, already! Get that project going!!
Except that it may be the wrong project at the wrong time. Or at least not the best solution because the problem hasn’t been fully defined. Or it’s a short-sighted solution to a problem with lots of peripheral issues that impact not only the project outcome but the strategic implications of the project, over the long haul.
In other words, someone didn’t do their homework very well. And that just might mean your client doesn’t know what they want or need. Are you willing to enlighten them, even if it means tabling the project for a while, or perhaps eliminating it as an option?
Let’s look at this situation another way.
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel you have hit a slam dunk with the prospective or current client? It’s just a matter of time before they sign the contract. They’ve already assured you that your solution is the front runner. They’ve got their funding allocated. They indicate to you that they have a key meeting coming up later that month and after that meeting, they will move forward with your solution. And you never hear back from them after the meeting.
They may have been doing their homework. In fact, the homework they were doing is exactly the type of homework you needed to be doing all along when you are going after the close, in order to win the project. When your client or prospect goes offline into the black hole of that “final meeting” phase in the decision making process, you are completely out of control of the situation. And if you haven’t taken the steps to define the variables and personalities truly impacting their decision making process, you will be left in the dark again and again. Because your prospects may be looking forward to going into that meeting and having their decision taken out of their hands. Because they never really intended to make a decision in the first place.
Because it could be that you really never had a slam dunk at all. Not even close. Perhaps they used you to provide them with a lot of information that they needed to make their decision….to select another vendor. In your over eagerness to participate in the sales process (and engineers, pay close attention to this) you engaged in peer level discussions rather than defined what criteria were critical for their corporate hierarchy in the vendor selection process.
Did you really think that these prospective or current clients were going to go into their “meeting” and advocate on your behalf and “sell” your project to their upper level management? Do these prospective or current clients work for you? I don’t think so.
So why create a situation for yourself where the prospective or current clients have all the cards and you still don’t understand the rules of engagement for their vendor selection process? And this vendor selection process may actually be dysfunctional at best. Which is why they end of making no decision at all or prolonging making a decision.
If you do your homework during the sales and project definition process, you can identify the issues and personalities that may ultimately derail your company as a potential vendor. You may also identify issues and personalities which make your working with this company less than a win-win situation (which means profitability is eaten up with a lot of chasing folks around to make a decision).
So sometimes, the best decision is to let your prospects not make a decision at all. You may have lost the opportunity for the project but may be saved an unprofitable long-winded drama in the long run.
Believe it or not, you may become more savvy regarding business development. Think about it.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013-2016. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools and is available on Amazon.