The marketing team created a compelling, targeted set of material that caught the attention of a potential buyer. They found your Web site and grabbed some information—a couple of white papers and a pricing list.
You followed up on the new lead quickly and effectively, using good lead management and nurturing tactics to make contact.
You feel like you’ve done your homework. You feel you understand their position in their industry. You’ve done a deep needs analysis, and feel you have a common ground with the prospect on how to address their pain. You get your best collateral and presentation material, tailored to the information you already have.
You wind up and give them your best 95-mile-an-hour fastball, the pitch that’s worked for you so many times in the past.
Yet contrary to evidence, against every sign you’ve seen to this point, you’re met with looks of confusion, or even worse, apathy.
The prospect doesn’t get it, or worse, doesn’t seem to care.
Now what do you do?
In baseball, the difference between a run-of-the-mill pitcher and an All-Star is rarely their “first pitch.” In the Big Leagues (and we’re assuming that’s where you want to be), everybody has a 90+ mile-per-hour fastball—but the best pitchers have a 2nd, a 3rd, sometimes even a 4th pitch that they can command.
While there are occasional exceptions to the rule (see Mariano Rivera and his un-duplicate-able cut fastball), in most cases the best pitchers win because when their primary pitch isn’t working, Plan B isn’t crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.
Sales is no different.
When your initial, carefully-prepped pitch is a “miss,” the answer is almost never to keep “winding up” and tossing something out there.
Stop, and figure out what happened.
Typically it’s one of three things:
- You’re not actually a contender and you didn’t know it.
- You’re in the dark about something going on inside the prospect’s company.
- You’re talking to the wrong people for the value prop you’ve presented.
If you’re just a “sounding board” for a competitor’s RFP and they’ve already locked in to another vendor, stop wasting your time and move on. Maybe the prospect just realized that your solution will require an entire technology platform overhaul—one they had no intention of making. Maybe your solution forces them to change a licensing situation with another vendor, and they don’t want to upset their current arrangement.
If you really are in contention, then clearly something has changed. There’s a management “realignment” on the horizon and your product/service is in the line of fire. A relocation is about to happen. A key budget or cashflow problem has reared its head.
Regardless, the solution is the same: dig back in. Who’s really in charge now, and who’s really going to make the decision?
Gather data, re-set your presentation, toe the rubber, and fire again.