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Advice for closing a deal where I have lost control?

I am chasing a deal in which a competitor has surfaced around the time the prospect was actively discussing commercials with us.

We are an enterprise SaaS company. The Client availed a paid trial & their users were happy with our Solution. I have been told that they are evaluating a similar solution as us & will get back in a couple of weeks. I have not been able to get the competitor's name as the client has not revealed it.

How do you wrest control back in such cases?

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    • 3
      Profile picture of Steve Heroux
      @steveheroux
      ( 560 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      All you can do is put your best foot forward and illustrate your ultimate value. If you did the best job you could and showed them why they should choose you ultimately, that’s all you can do. The decision lies in their hands and your competition is irrelevant at this point. It’s kind of like competing chefs preparing a meal for someone to choose for their wedding or special occasion. All you can do is use the best ingredients, prepare it as well as you can, make sure all your Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, and let the best dish win. Being too aggressive, impatient, or forceful, will drive your prospect into your competitor’s arms even faster. Good luck!

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @steveheroux-Thank you so much for your thoughts. It helps to clear your self-doubts & reassure yourself through such positive reinforcement.

      • 1
        Profile picture of Joe Latchaw
        @jlatchaw85
        ( 4.9k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @steveheroux is spot on with his response. If it’s meant to be, they will choose you. if not, just have to chalk it up and chase the next one. The thrill of the hunt is something that can’t be replaced!

    • 2
      Profile picture of James Coelho
      @jamescoe
      ( 610 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      1. Proactively (and maybe, aggressively), showcase a comparison between your product and the most relevant competition products that your client may be evaluating,
      The key features, your product’s unique feature , training ,software updates, etc, should stand out.
      2. Request for a meeting with senior management to talk about any aspect of your SaaS solution that needs to be represented or any customised solution that is to be presented or summary of the demo with the dashboard of actual productivity enhancements
      3. Engage with more stakeholders in the organisation.
      3. Avoid discounts

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @jamescoe – Thanks a ton for your suggestions!! All are really critical to improving the chances to win especially Point no 3. More the number of people on your side more entrenched you get in your client’s organization & this often tends to get overlooked at the fag end of the deal stage. Will do all of these

    • 3
      Profile picture of David Kurkjian
      @dkurkjian
      ( 290 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Vikrant,

      I’m not sure “control” would be the right word to use. I haven’t found many prospects that want or like to be controlled. The better question would be how to engage or reengage them in a conversation. Forgive the nit picking on the word control but it does go to a sales persons mindset.

      Your responsibility is to communicate enough value so that a prospect stays engaged in the relationship. If I were in your shoes I’d stay on point in focusing the conversation (or content in an email) around your strengths and make a case for the pain they can avoid if they avail themselves of your strengths. Most sales professionals are really good at pointing out the gains that their product will create but forget to realize that avoiding pain is a stronger motivator.

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @dkurkjian – Thanks for chipping in with your suggestions. Totally agree “control” should not be a part of our conversation with the Client. This came as a feeling that every sales guy gets when the deal seems so near yet so far!!!

    • 2
      Profile picture of Roxanne Burton
      @roxyb
      ( 400 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Go back into Discovery mode and take the client back to goal identification working through the challenges and confirming your understanding of the pains

    • 0
      Profile picture of Monika Solak
      @monikasolak
      ( 290 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      I have seen this behaviour in some cases when they were preparing to negotiate pricing. In our industry, some competitors are heavily discounting, However, in majority of the cases, like Steve has mentioned, reinforcing the value was the best strategy.

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        Get that. In this case, I have double-checked even with users & it surely seems like they are seriously evaluating other options. Else they would have straight away started negotiating. Thank you for your thoughts!!

    • 1
      Profile picture of Emmy Cobb
      @mecobb
      ( 240 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Do you have multiple contacts in this deal? If you haven’t reached out to be a resource to those folks you can attempt to make relationships and gain intel that way. Selling value to multiple contacts can help bring to light concerns that your main contact may not share with you.

    • 3
      Profile picture of Kirk Owens
      @likecaptain
      ( 370 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      You’ve likely done an ROI, have you done a COI (Cost of inactivity)?
      If you have…

      “Knowing how happy your colleagues were during our trial, they’re likely surprised by this pause. Knowing the team’s desire to drive Sales, this delay may have negative financial ramifications – I DON’T want these to hurt your business nor morale.
      I have quantified values to share with you: 1) what continuing with us will return, 2) how fast you’ll realize that impact, 3) the cost of a delay/re-evaluation and 4) the magnitude of that negative ripple across (your company).
      Given 15 minutes, i’ll detail positives and negatives?”

      If they won’t give you the time to learn +/- … they weren’t honest about their trial or you weren’t the solution they wanted anyway = move on,

      • 1
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        What you are indicating is the principle of loss aversion I reckon.
        Will give this a try!! Thanks

    • 2
      Profile picture of Clay "Ross" Ramey
      @clayrossramey27
      ( 300 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      You have them on the line but, don’t have them in the boat. Personalization is probably going to be the key. When sending the follow up emails show the customer you are real. Don’t not send the email that you send to every customer. Make it personal. Look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, try to find common ground or someone they admire in their field and do research on that particular token. This has been drilled in me the last few weeks, the more you can show you want to help as person and not a seller the more likely you make the sale. Disconnect from the out come right now. You will be ok if you don’t make this sell there are others that will be glad to use you as a service. You also need to know who your competitor companies are and keeping an eye on them. If you can figure out who the other company is you can show the key differences in your product vs theirs. Best of luck and I hope you make the sale.

    • 0
      Profile picture of IncredibleCO
      @incredibleco
      ( 440 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Here are a couple of things I would think about.

      1. Double down on the value propositions. Drive home your specific value prop to their specific organization. Refer back to your notes and frame it in their words, if you can.
      2. Ask for the objection. It’s hard for prospects/customers to talk about what they don’t like, or where you might fall short. So, ask in a way that invites the feedback and is psychologically and socially safe. “Mr. Prospect, what about the solution that we’ve proposed is not a good fit? Or doesn’t fit well with Company’s priorities?”

      I like what @jamescoe said about going up the ladder. Assuming you’re not already doing Waterfall. Solid advice.

      Also, re “Disconnect from the out come right now.” from @clayrossramey27, 100% agree. The more you can make it ‘safe’ to talk to you and openly` share feedback, the better you’ll know where you stand. Disconnect from the outcome and focus on the process!

    • 0
      Profile picture of Jim Golden
      @jimgolden
      ( 240 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Hi Vikrant:

      If you conducted a trial, did you have specific success criteria outlined? If you met those criteria, can they be extrapolated into a value for the company (ie, money or time saved, revenue increased, higher engagement, etc.) If you have not already done so, include that summary in an email or propose a presentation to the stakeholders. If you have a customer who has a similar experience with you and went on to great success with your product, put that in there as well. Also, if you have product differentiators that specifically benefit your client, or that make you truly unique in your market, discuss those.

      Jim

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        Done all of that. trial review with their entire team was done & the trial milestones that were mutually agreed were achieved.

    • 1
      Profile picture of Kris Johnson
      @krisj
      ( 290 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Just wanted to offer something a little different than put your best foot forward.
      Acknowledge it (the idea that it’s smart to do due diligence and consider a few possible solutions…We always recommend that. Perhaps I can help with a scorecard evaluation”..the idea here is to get on the same side of the table with your client.) And perhaps use the I’m confused, is there something that was missing with our solution or was there something specific I failed to address? And redo some discovery. You need to find out all the key drivers your client is using in their decision criteria.
      From here you’re seeking out potential gaps, missed “needs/wants” from initial discovery and reframing how your solution addresses it. Hope this helps. Would love to hear how it plays out.

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @krisj – Yeah. Aiming to find what is hidden below the surface & then look at the best ways to deal with it.

    • 0
      Profile picture of Calvin Hsu
      @calvin523
      ( 240 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Vikrant – Assuming at this point in the process asking direct, open ended questions to really find out what’s driving their buying decision is probably your best bet assuming you’ve built rapport, engaged stakeholders, communicated value prop, etc. Buyers are liars so and a strong competitor with a talented sales reps will always plant doubt in a prospect even if they don’t have a superior product. If the client is being truthful and transparent and you believe it’s really down to you and another vendor, I would really focus on uncovering more about what’s changed and why they are really considering another alternative especially when they were showing all the buying signals and discussing commercials. “How do we compare to the “other guys”? “What do you like better about them/us?” “What changed since the last time we talked?”

      Their responses should at least help you uncover ways to counter their objections, re-engage and provide solutions to their priorities and buying considerations. If anything, you’ll be better equipped to handle a similar situation when it happens again. Good luck and hope you get them back on track!

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @calvin523 – Itching to ask these pointed questions once they are done evaluating all options!!! As a sales leader, its our job to get as much info out as possible even though it seems harder when the client is not very open. Thanks

    • 1
      Profile picture of Buddy Wisdom
      @budhurd1
      ( 400 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      You ask questions. For example, “I can understand not wanting to reveal my competition, but can you tell me if there is anything about my proposal that is not completely meeting your needs so that we can discuss it?” … “Is there something that my competitor is offering that we haven’t which is important to you?” If you still get stonewalled, do a review of your proposal. Don’t offer, just do it. For instance, “I can understand wanting to check other companies, it’s just that always make me a little nervous so I would like to make sure we have covered everything.” (Don’t hesitate; go right into it.) Based on our discussion, you mentioned that you liked … Do you still feel that this will tie nicely into your …?” (Listen) … “In addition, the … appears to meet your requirements. Do you feel this will …? (Listen and do not say another word.) Complete the review looking for what’s missing. If he or she agrees with everything, state, “It sounds like this is an excellent choice for you. Are you sure you don’t want to get this started?
      A review re-approaches each issue one at a time and we get agreement again on all possible decisions. When re-asking questions, wait as long as it takes for her answer. Silence is golden. The longer she or he hesitates the more carefully they are considering their answer. The ball is in their park, let him or her hit it back. Find out what is missing and, if necessary, create more choices or more clarification. It becomes a reduction to the ridiculous.
      If he or she is still stalling, state, “Is there anything else at all that is concerning you?” (Use this last only or you are likely to get, “Just the whole thing.” and you can’t handle “the whole thing.”) … Listen and if he has no further objections state, “Wonderful, _____,if you do have any concerns or questions that come up, please call or come back and talk to us, we would love to have your business and do a great job for you.” Careful here there is such a thing as too much drilling and you may destroy the chances of the client coming back. “And I am sure you will think this over very carefully. (Next is important) When do you think we could meet again?”

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        Sure thing @budhurd1. Waiting to uncover the real reasons why they evaluating other options & identify gaps which need to be plugged

        • 1
          Profile picture of Buddy Wisdom
          @budhurd1
          ( 400 POINTS )
          10 months, 2 weeks ago

          One thing I forgot to mention with a review (or should I say include) is price concerns. I always save price for last. By reviewing, thus summarizing, we are also revisiting value in a synopsis kind of way. We are putting it all together by re-examining pros and cons and then asking for the order. Your proposal is no longer piece mill. Ask for the order! The silliness of not moving forward becomes clear.

          I usually ask for the “deal” twice. Once, halfway thru the review and then at the end when all things have been covered. So, in the middle of the review ask for the deal but leave yourself some ammunition to keep going. For example, after covering several points state, “Well everything seems to be in order, are you sure you don’t want to go ahead and get this done?”

          Suppose she or he continues to stonewall. “I appreciate how you must feel. I would want to be sure as well, but I am still wanting to make sure we have covered everything. Continue the review asking about price last. “Mrs. Jones is it the money? Did you have a different budget in mind?” (Silence.) “Ask for the order again and don’t say another word until you get an answer. If they are still wishing to check with your competitor just follow the steps in the last paragraph above. (Establish appreciation, leave the door open, and get permission to re-approach.)

          Remember, we are looking for an objection so that we can revise our proposal or give added information. When a client states they want to ‘shop around’ they are leaving us with nothing to sink our teeth into. So, we must uncover any lingering concerns by drawing out objections. It’s funny how people will hold back on giving objections until they give the order to someone else. Suddenly, you are told the reason they bought elsewhere. (Now you tell me.)

          Also, let me include a few questions from my book that may be useful for drawing out objections before you get involved in a review. Of course, you would not use all of them:

          “Of course, I understand this is an important decision. Curiously, though, may I ask what reservations you may still have?” (Silence)
          “Well, I would want to be sure as well. Even so, may I ask what your final decision will be based on?” (Silence)
          “That’s completely reasonable. Curiously though, what are some of the issues that are important as you evaluate your decision?” (Silence)
          “I appreciate your desire to be sure about your decision, but we have covered all the basics that I can think of, I am just confused about what is concerning you?’ (Silence)

        • 1
          Profile picture of Buddy Wisdom
          @budhurd1
          ( 400 POINTS )
          10 months, 2 weeks ago

          One thing I forgot to mention with a review (or should I say include) is price concerns. I always save price for last. By reviewing, thus summarizing, we are also revisiting value in a synopsis kind of way. We are putting it all together by re-examining pros and cons and then asking for the order. Your proposal is no longer piece mill. Ask for the order! The silliness of not moving forward becomes clear.

          I usually ask for the “deal” twice. Once, halfway thru the review and then at the end when all things have been covered. So, in the middle of the review ask for the deal but leave yourself some ammunition to keep going. For example, after covering several points state, “Well everything seems to be in order, are you sure you don’t want to go ahead and get this done?”

          Suppose she or he continues to stonewall. “I appreciate how you must feel. I would want to be sure as well, but I am still wanting to make sure we have covered everything. Continue the review asking about price last. “Mrs. Jones is it the money? Did you have a different budget in mind?” (Silence.) “Ask for the order again and don’t say another word until you get an answer. If they are still wishing to check with your competitor just follow the steps in the last paragraph above. (Establish appreciation, leave the door open, and get permission to re-approach.)

          Remember, we are looking for an objection so that we can revise our proposal or give added information. When a client states they want to ‘shop around’ they are leaving us with nothing to sink our teeth into. So, we must uncover any lingering concerns by drawing out objections. It’s funny how people will hold back on giving objections until they give the order to someone else. Suddenly, you are told the reason they bought elsewhere. (Now you tell me.)

          Also, let me include a few questions from my book that may be useful for drawing out objections before you get involved in a review. Of course, you would not use all of them:

          “Of course, I understand this is an important decision. Curiously, though, may I ask what reservations you may still have?” (Silence)
          “Well, I would want to be sure as well. Even so, may I ask what your final decision will be based on?” (Silence)
          “That’s completely reasonable. Curiously though, what are some of the issues that are important as you evaluate your decision?” (Silence)

    • 1
      Profile picture of Paul Salamanca
      @paulsalamanca
      ( 210 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Similar to what @jamescoe said. Also, Lessoned learned for future opps to be positioning competitive advantages throughout / before you get to pricing. Now what you can do is arm them with questions to ask your competitors

    • 0
      Profile picture of Ameet Bhide
      @ameetbhide
      ( 340 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Here is one thing that you can ponder about.

      Reach out and tell them
      once they evaluate the other product if they can give you an in-principle agreement for First right of refusal.

      This way, you can look at the features where your product may get a lower rating and propose if enhancement is possible or not or all you know they may not be aware of those features.

      Just a thought.

    • 0
      Profile picture of Alejandro Kikuchi
      @kiku
      ( 200 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Hey Vikrant!
      As someone else pointed out, stand your ground and do not offer discounts. It’s a race to the bottom.
      Looks like you’re quite far into the sales cycle, meaning you’ve had the chance to know people in different roles. I’d try to approach them, but softly: ie not trying to close the deal nor to find out the competitor’s name, but rather position yourself as a valuable partner. Share an article relevant to their industry and your solution with them. Share a case study related to someone in their role (eg “this other client, who’s also a marketing manager like, used our solution this way and had saved $X by the first month”). Help them visualize how you’re helping them. Shed light on issues they might have missed and lead that to your solution.

      Approach them with quick, informal messages via LinkedIn or email.

      All this being said, do be prepared to walk out. Set a hard deadline. “Will get back in a couple of weeks” is way too vague, you’ll need your energy and focus to get the next client. So instead of just letting it go cold over time, after one or two weeks you can simply say “perhaps our solution isn’t the right fit for you” and move on. Show that you care about your time and that you don’t want to force something too much.

      Just my two cents. Good luck!

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        Yes. Have just shared an industry report with them. Besides I have alse invited them to a webinar organized by us. Fingers crossed!! thanks

    • 0
      Profile picture of Sudiartono Hakim
      @diar
      ( 2.8k POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Hi Vikrant,

      I think it is hard to replace the incumbent suppliers, the first thing that you should do is to make yourself to be more trusted, and show your add-value to them, then be more pro-active to keep in touch with them,

    • 0
      Profile picture of Chris Poor
      @crpoor87
      ( 280 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Hey Vikrant – At least you’re in good company. We’ve all been here at one point. I may have missed this earlier, but getting in touch with a current client and asking if they’re willing to be a reference and take a call has helped me in the past. If you’ve got a “Reference Champion” I simply send an email to your prospective buyer with their contact info and let them know that your reference is expecting their call. Nothing more, nothing less. Again, doesn’t work all the time, but it’s probably safe to say that your current client was in the same shoes at some point in evaluating vendors. Good luck with the deal.

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @crpoor87 – Thx. Will give this a try

    • 0
      Profile picture of David R. Schmidt
      @drs
      ( 230 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      ABC…

      always
      be
      curious

      when they shared this development, ASK 3-5 smart questions so you understand what/WHY they are looking for in their evaluation of a similar solution AND where your solution fell short. Schedule a series of follow-up meetings (or multiple 1:1 meetings with many members of the DMU) to ASK questions that will help you and them (play consultant here) get a sense of the comparison progress along the way (you need to understand the timing of their review). They will be more open to sharing the competitor if you are sharing objective help/ consultant/ value they care about.

      Content, testimonials, references are key at this point. If those have already happened another reference call may be extremely helpful. Buyers open up to “peers” who have been in a similar buying situation.

      Good luck!

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @drs – Thanks for your views. Testimonial bit helps for sure

    • 0
      Profile picture of John van Col
      @john
      ( 330 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      The best advice I can give you is to be patient, what stands our is that your prospect has integrity by not divulging information out to you, that shows they have sustenance and good character, believe in yourself and your product and always remember that you cannot win every sale out there, best advice I can give you is to have faith in yourself and your product. I am sure that your client will be getting back to you, as they have not said NO and hat means they are open to negotiate still, maybe they are comparing your awesome product to another competitor to see where they fall short or why they have to use you.

    • 0
      Profile picture of James Murphy
      @jamesmurphy
      ( 370 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      Find additional value you can add. Outside of the product features and pricing. What value can you add to solving the business problems they are facing? How can you help them solve other challenges? What case studies could you build for them to make transitioning seamless?

      Build more value around partnering with YOU vs just purchasing the solution or features of the product.

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @jamesmurphy – Many thanks. offering something more than product/solution seems interesting to think about.

    • 0
      Profile picture of Ruthie Nissim
      @ruthie
      ( 410 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      If they engaged a competitor, I’d ask them in a straight-forward manner, why. Due diligence? Price? Lack of internal consensus (which you need to gain)? New stakeholder enter the playing field? Ask them where you missed the mark as it seemed things were going in the right direction and ask for the opportunity to address that gap – if anything, for their peace of mind.

      • 0
        Profile picture of Vikrant Bafna
        @vikrant
        ( 1.8k POINTS )
        10 months, 2 weeks ago

        @ruthie – Great points. Will give this a try

    • 0
      Profile picture of Brett VT
      @bavt
      ( 290 POINTS )
      10 months, 2 weeks ago

      As its been given to me: Bring it back to what they’re after. “I understand completely. If I can ask, what had you considering us in the first place?” Forces them to answer why you, in particular, are in the running. And imho, opens the conversation to explore what else is in their evaluation criteria. It’s a big leap for some folks; but earnestly seeking to understand their world is where all the gold is.

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