As a sales leader one of the best ways we can support our team members is to give them tools for reducing friction in their sales cycle. A powerful tool to share with our team is proactive roadblock identification early in an interaction with a prospect or client.
This starts with instilling a “have emotional conversations without the emotion” mindset in our salespeople. By asking their prospects about potential roadblocks (e.g. must do a bid if services over $X) in advance of the roadblock coming up they take the emotion out of the conversation with their prospect and are more likely to come up with a solution for addressing that roadblock or disqualifying the prospect before they invest a bunch of time and energy pursuing an opportunity that will never close.
Some of our salespeople may be reluctant to ask about potential roadblocks because they are worried about “losing” something that they don’t have to begin with or they believe that their prospect “should” tell them. Our prospects aren’t obligated to tell us anything. It’s on our salespeople to ask even if the answer they get back means that prospect is not qualified, which isn’t terribly damaging for a salesperson if their funnel is full.
Occasionally a prospect might not know about potential roadblocks because of their role in their organization or their lack of experience in purchasing our product. That’s a great place for our salesperson to use a third-party story. For example, when I sold SaaS, one of the roadblocks we ran into was legal taking forever (my opinion) to review the agreement, which would push out implementation past when our prospect wanted to get going. Once we figured out that that was an issue, I would say to my prospect early on, “in my experience Legal often wants to review the agreement, would that be the case here?” Often my prospect would roll their eyes and say “yes,” which allowed us to remove that roadblock and implement on our agreed date.
Should our salesperson be speaking with someone at their prospect company who doesn’t have ultimate authority on removing that road block a tool to gently test their contact’s commitment to removing the roadblock is a pre-mortem using the question “what happens if.” That mighty sound like, “Prospect, what happens if Legal won’t budge on their timeline for reviewing, which would push implementation out past your deadline. Where does that leave us?” Prospect could say, “I’ll push it through,” or they could say, “we’ll have to push implementation out.” Either way our salesperson learns something, and their pipeline forecast will be more accurate.
When we notice out funnel bloat in our sales team that’s a coaching opportunity. Coaching our salespeople to proactively uncover and address roadblocks gives us a more accurate funnel and them more time to pursue real opportunities.
Until next time… go lead.