The Black Hole

Jennifer Nietz - Manager of Operations


October 2013 – Situation: You have come across a great prospect and you have spent several weeks maybe even months developing a great relationship.  You gain the attention of your prospect and they agree to meet for a presentation with a team of key decision makers.  Perfect! The presentation goes well and your prospect asks for a proposal.  You say you will get them the proposal over the next week.  The proposal is sent and then the prospect disappears…into a black hole.  Sound familiar?

Response: A response that is all too common today in sales…so what happens?  Today in B2B sales, developing a relationship is a critical element to the success of the sales process.  Most sales professionals are doing a great job building that relationship upfront, but once the proposal is issued they forget or struggle with next steps, if the sale is not complete.

Here are a couple of steps you can take to avoid the Black Hole:

  1. Face time is a critical. When you are face to face with your key decision makers, capitalize on your time together. You have everyone in the room with immediate calendar access.  Set the proposal review. You may need a week to draft the proposal, but this is a great time to set up a proposal review meeting. Avoid blindly sending a proposal without additional discussion as your prospect will form an immediate opinion about what they are looking at.
  2. Allow the prospect to guide the next steps.  When you are with your prospect, tell them that you will be drafting a proposal in about a week and ask what they feel is the next action after the proposal is submitted. Hold them accountable for their decision; keep them involved and let them think that next step is their idea. “Mr. Prospect, does it make since for us to have a proposal discussion in about a week?”  “Mr. Prospect, you requested that I submit a proposal to you via email, what would you anticipate to happen at that point?”
  3. Continue the relationship.  Yes, the meeting is over but the sale is not complete until the money is in the bank. Continue the calls, thank you notes, thank you gift(s), and customized interactions. They are still looking to develop trust with you and your company – you are still under evaluation.
  4. Ask for the order. Don’t forget to tell your prospect how excited you are for the opportunity to work with them. Ask, “Mr. Prospect, assuming that our proposal addresses your needs, what would cause you not to select us?” Yes, I meant not. Listen carefully and be sure you know the answer, before you hear the answer. Price, delivery, expertise, timing – “Mr. Prospect, I’d like to work with you to show you how we can… (fill in the blank). If I could do this, would you select us as your supplier?”

Every situation is different and there are no “cookie cutter” answers, but you can avoid the Black Hole with a little preparation and commitment to relationship building.

Questions or Comments? Please contact Jennifer Nietz at jnietz@teamCOACT.com.