Sales Strategies That Can Help You Manage a Stalled PipelineBy: Phil Stern Jackie Friedman
While some companies have seen an increase in demand since the pandemic started, the majority of software businesses have witnessed one of two scenarios: A) Your pipeline evaporated. Buyers cut all new purchases or trimmed budgets and indicated they cannot move forward with your product or B) Your pipeline stalled. Buyers are saying they’re still interested but need to circle back at a later date.
In speaking with companies whose pipelines have stalled, we are hearing three common themes:
- My buyer lost their budget but think purchasing will open back up in the second half of the year.
- It’s been trickier to navigate procurement than it was in the past.
- This isn’t a priority for my prospect right now.
With those themes in mind, we want to share some practical tips for how sales teams can modify their selling strategies to not only continue to advance deals, but to also help their prospects gain access to budget for software that will help them succeed.
Responses to Theme #1: My buyer lost their budget
- Tell a stronger ROI story. Send them a proven ROI calculator or case study they can take to their company’s leadership. If you don’t already have one of these available, we recommend working with your CFO or finance lead to build one.
- Adjust your value props. Ask if there have been changes to key initiatives at the company and reassess your value props accordingly. Develop narratives that demonstrate how your product can help them deliver on their new initiatives. This is all about framing.
- Help your buyer access products or services for free. For buyers using public cloud services (AWS or Azure), ask them if they have hit their committed spend with their cloud provider. If they have not, your buyer likely can access the budget set aside for cloud spending to purchase through cloud marketplaces (if you’re listed). They may even be able to skip procurement because the budget is already allocated.
Responses to Theme #2: It’s been trickier to navigate procurement
- Ask your buyer what has changed internally. Make sure you, and they, know how buying has changed in their business including new internal processes and different stakeholders. For instance, one trend we are seeing at larger organizations is that procurement is being centralized to help organizations better manage costs.
- Encourage them to bring procurement in earlier. Try to avoid late-stage surprises and stuck deals. By bringing procurement in earlier, you can engage all of the right people at your prospect’s business to get a deal done smoothly.
- Don’t neglect discovery with procurement. Do more discovery on the process to truly understand the outcome procurement is looking to drive. What might seem like a need to simply reduce cost or delay payments could actually be solved in other ways (with longer contract lengths or free add-on services). You won’t know if you don’t ask.
- Arm your buyer with data to make the decision smooth. Offer benchmarking insights into how your product can help them compete in the market, what competitors may be using, and why your product is the right choice.
- Lay out a meticulous sales process. In partnership with your champion, create a detailed process so you—and they—know how to move the process forward. Do they know how to measure their contribution? They need to be able to identify what the milestones look like at each stage so that they can guide the process internally.
Responses to Theme #3: This isn’t a priority for my prospect right now
- It might not be. Empathy is important here and the best way to show empathy is to ask questions. If your prospect’s priorities have changed—why? What has become their top priority? What is keeping them up at night? Yes, that question might seem like it has an obvious answer right now, but you might learn some surprising things and hopefully uncover ways you can help.
- Make sure you have made a compelling enough case. When asking probing questions about their priorities, part of what you are looking to do is verify that prioritization is the real reason they can’t move forward with your product. If the reason is not understanding your value prop, find ways to reframe it.
Stalled, but not canceled
Stalled pipelines are, unfortunately, a reality that nearly all software sales teams are addressing right now. But just because a prospect can’t convert today, doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to move the conversation forward. Re-verify your ROI; establish a deeper understanding of the procurement process; and look for avenues to create an empathetic connection.
By keeping your sales conversations energetic through these slower months, you will be able to activate quickly when companies’ budget becomes available again.
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