Beware of Black Holes in your sales process

On September 15, Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by over 500 points. We have since seen larger swings in the market and the Federal government act to keep banks from going under. The Dow Jones closed at 10,917.51on Sept 15, as I write this on November 24, it is at 8322.40.

Every salesperson I speak withhas been effected by Sept 15 and its aftermath. But what amazes me is how many of them cannot account for the black hole in their sales process. Scientifically speaking, a black hole is a collapsed star with a gravitational pull so strong that not even light can escape it.  If you have an opportunity that began before Sept 15th, and you haven’t accounted for the monumental shift in priorities of your prospect, then your opportunity will be enveloped by a black hole.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) has become the prevailing philosophy of CFO’s and CEO’sand the way they are responding to it is by doing nothing. It doesn’t matter how great of a business case you make if the CFO is reacting to the crisis with an all-out spending freeze.  Many boards have even tied the hands of the C-suite to ground the jets and stop the spending, so your argument will fall on deaf ears.

Liquidity and Deflation are also on the top of CFO and CEO’s minds as a result of Sept 15. They don’t know how hard it will be to attain capital if the credit market stays frozen. They also are not convinced that your product will be worth less tomorrow than it is today. That coupled with the fact public companies have seen a tremendous devaluation of their own stock.

If you have not addressed the cataclysmic world events with your sponsor and how they may impact your opportunity getting signed – then you need to as soon as possible. I recommend that you redouble your demand creation efforts because the majority of the deals you have forecasted to close that began before Sept 15 – simply will not. The good news is that opportunities that have begun after Sept 15 will have already taken the economic environment into account. Now, we still need to account for varying factors to win a complex sale – but navigating successfully through a black hole isn’t one of them.

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