Perpetual Slip-pers - Why Do Some Deals Never Seem To Close?

A new financial year. New pipeline.

Or are there some hangovers from the Christmas period which are still loitering around?

Maybe even some perpetual ‘slip-pers’ - random deals left over from the summer months?

We’ve all had those opportunities where we are certain that our product is fantastic and offers huge benefits for everyone who will use it. 

So, why do some deals never seem to close? Why do our quarter deadlines come and pass and these deals slip on?

Unfortunately, we see this situation fairly regularly when working with any SaaS business. 

Fortunately, there are checks and balances we can implement to confirm your optimism is well placed and your deal has good foundations to forecast.


Typical issues with perpetual slip-pers

What is really going on when yet another deadline has come and gone and you still don’t have a signature on the dotted line? 

In our experience, it’s usually one of these three issues:

  1. The pain that your customer is facing, and that your solution solves, has not been properly identified, qualified and quantified.
  2. The metrics that demonstrate to the customer how beneficial your solution will be to them are not big enough to make your deal a priority.
  3. You have not properly identified and built a Champion within the company, who is invested in solving the problem you have identified.

From a MEDDIC perspective, this is an issue with the:

  • I  - Identified Pain
  • M - Metrics
  • C - Champion

which puts this in the ‘early stage sale pipeline issues’ category. 


At the beginning of the sale cycle, the early stage of the pipeline, you will be: 

  • looking at customer pain to assess whether you offer a solution that they are likely to want to assign budget to buying,
  • assigning numerical metrics to both this pain and the impact of their buying your solution so you can demonstrate why they need your software, and
  • identifying & building a Champion within the business who is invested to make the case for change, on your behalf, in the internal meetings that you will not be a part of.


A sale starts and ends with customer pain

As a rule, a sale begins and ends with customer pain. 

With pain comes motivation to act.

If the customer doesn’t have enough pain to want to seek out a solution, no matter how much you know your solution will benefit them, they will not prioritise your deal and you will get the perpetual, and dreaded, “maybe”, seeing you waste precious time on a deal that is never going to close. 

Imagine a paper cut vs a leg amputation - which one would spur you to seek help?

Properly qualifying the customer is vital to understand if you are really going to be offering a solution that the customer both needs and wants to spend their budget on.

When deals slip, often sales reps have either guessed the pain, or just not qualified enough that the pain is real and felt by those able to make the case for change.

The emotional elephant in the room

Before we go any further, let’s just tackle the emotional elephant in the room.

We talked about deals closing. 

Your deal - which is close to closing.

And yet, we have just said typically the issues lie in early-stage-pipeline challenges.

In your head, no doubt, you’ll be thinking - but my deal is closing - it’s not in early sales stages?

Perhaps yes, perhaps no. 

Based on our experience, with perpetual slip-pers, your odds are 50/50. Unless you come back to the beginning and consider - is the foundation of your deal solid? 

Our advice to clients is always - "save yourself some time and heartache and go back to the beginning to check those foundations." 

For any slipped deal, come back to the beginning;

  • Do you really understand the pain?
  • Do you have the metrics to sufficiently back up a business case?
  • Do you have a Champion? Or have you just convinced yourself you are in good shape?

Where to begin - Requalification

When we deliver our MEDDIC sales training courses, we talk about the question “so what?”

  • Question 1: So what? What is the implication of pain you have identified? What happens if the customer does nothing?
  • Question 2: So what? What is the implication of this implication? Is it a revenue issue, a risk issue? Dig deeper into the negative consequences of doing nothing.
  • Question 3: SO WHAT? What is the implication of that? To who and how bad?

Dig, dig, dig. Don’t guess. Use open questions to qualify.

As you can see with this example, one stage of qualification of the pain is not enough, two stages gets you a bit further but only by really digging down will you find the real implications of their pain and be able to start collecting the right metrics to construct your business case. 

Note: we don’t recommend you are quite so blunt in your questioning style – find a way to ask these questions in a more nuanced, subtle manner if you want to keep your relationship with the customer friendly! (One of our handy guides can help you with this)

 Now that you have identified, and qualified;

  • the pain the customer is feeling
  • the implications of the pain 
  • whose head this lands on 

you can collect the right metrics that will demonstrate the value of your solution. 


Demonstrate the risk

Our second recommendation is to develop an ROI which demonstrates the potential loss of earnings, risk implication or cost implication over the next year (or two).

Either way, once you have properly qualified the pain, you can properly quantify it with metrics in such a way that your customer will be much more likely to allocate budget to solving. 


Identify your 'Champion'

The third, and one of the most common issues we see in companies who are using the MEDDIC methodology, is that you have not properly identified your Champion within the business.

It’s a simple fact that a deal without a Champion will not close.

There’s no getting around it.

Rushing the process of identifying and - importantly - building your Champion will guarantee that the deal deadline will slip away time and time again. 

Champions are ESSENTIAL for customers to make the case for change. They are the person on the inside, fighting your corner in the meetings that you are not in, getting you access to the people in the organisation who will aid their cause and yours. 

Because a Champion is so important to your deal, be extra careful to qualify whether the person you think is your Champion actually is (read this article to find out if your champion ticks all the boxes)Again, it’s very easy to persuade yourself that you have the right person because you want them to be and you don’t want to admit that the time you have spent so far is wasted, but this is a classic sunk-cost-fallacy.

Don’t fall for it! 

Once you have gone back and addressed these three points, your perpetual slipper of a deal – the one that never managed to take you to the ball, is something you can strike off and stop wasting any more time on, or it is genuinely a deal that can go into your forecast with confidence. 



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