No sales professional wins every deal. Ideally they lose early in the sales funnel and not late so that they don’t waste company time and resource on opportunities that they cannot win. If you have qualified opportunities in your funnel that you have a fighting chance of winning then manage them carefully so that they do not derail. Here are the most common reasons why “good, qualified” opportunities often derail!

Poor Initial Qualification– Opportunities are placed into the funnel that were not a good match to the organizations ideal customer profile, perfect prospect profile or target customer. Don’t allow garbage to be placed into the sales funnel. Managers should carefully scrutinize each new entry to maintain funnel health and integrity. Opportunity quality is better than quantity.

Missed Someone – Failure to identify all of the stakeholders that are involved in the purchase of your product, service or solution is surefire disaster. They are influencing others and you don’t even know they exist.

No Value-No sale – In today’s MedTech market, especially for new capital products evidence is king. Sellers must bring more than aggressive pricing, rebates and novel ways to acquire the technology. Clinical and financial evidence are the new entry points. Without proof the path to the PO could be difficult. Have you verified that each stakeholder acknowledges your value by stating you are the preferred solution?

Poor Understanding of Pain/Gain– People buy for their reasons not yours. In each deal review you should be able to articulate the exact reasons why each stakeholder is involved in the purchase of your product, service or solution. Be sure you can tie your product, service or solution to an existing problem that is causing them angst and must be fixed, a problem they want to avoid or an identified opportunity they want to capitalize on. Timing is always relevant.

No Internal Sponsor – Having a key stakeholder that has authority and influence within the organization and that provides you with insight on your strategy is important to be successful. Sales often derail because an internal coach or sponsor has not been cultivated.

Final Yes is Unknown– This is a common problem in MedTech sales. It used to be the surgeon or the department director of the hospital. Because of consolidation; formation of healthcare systems and limited access to capital funds; large capital expenditures are now often being approved by the governing board, regional or corporate office. Savvy sellers ask the questions “after the hospital CEO/COO approves the purchase is there any other approval required to approve the purchase and release the funds to procure it?”

Happy Ears – Liking your product is not the same as liking your solution. I can like a Bentley but if I cannot afford one I am not going to buy it. Be sure that each stakeholder is telling you why they are recommending your solution.

Capital Funding Lost or Frozen– Each year hospitals develop and approve a capital budget. It’s just that a budgeted item. Funds have to be available and released for the purchase to be made. If you’re selling to a hospital it’s important to know where your product is on their priority list and when the money is allocated to be spent. If census declines, operating margins declines, the bond rating (Not-for-Profits) drops, interest rates increase or other factors occur capital funding can be frozen or taken away.

Changing Environment– Healthcare in the USA is going through unprecedented change. Mergers, acquisitions and divestitures are common along with the formation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Changes in structure often dictate changes in strategy or priorities. Capital funding can be moved to new projects with a greater ROI.

Anti-Sponsor – Deals often derail because there is someone in the organization that has a high degree of influence and is vociferous in not wanting your product, service or solution. We call these people detractors or anti-sponsors. When these people are identified they must be neutralized to preserve the opportunity. Ignoring them and using prayer is not an option.

Failure to Identify Risk– Risk is prevalent in every sale. It is the job of the sales professional to identify all the risk factors for each stakeholder and then mitigate them.

Poor Strategy– If you’re selling a MedTech product to a hospital multiple stakeholders are involved both internal and external. Each has differing personal wins that must be obtained and each requires different business results. Most of the deals today are too complex for one person to keep everything in their head. Their needs to be a way to capture all of the important information for objective analysis so that concrete actions can be developed to remove obstacles and capitalize on strengths to move the sale forward. Savvy sellers have a formal mechanism to objectively analyze the entire opportunity and determine their strengths, weaknesses, the additional information they require and best steps to move the sale ahead.

Unexpected Delays– Anytime the close date gets moved it’s a cause for concern. Sometimes delays are unavoidable. Oftentimes they are simply the excuse for an underlying issue. Dig deep to ensure the delay is warranted and the stakeholder isn’t avoiding giving you bad news or looking at another alternative.

Failure to Identify Options– There are always options to buying your product, service or solution. Have you defined all of the options that each of the stakeholders could consider? Could they buy from a direct competitor? Use internal resources? Use the budget for something else? Have you ruled out that “doing nothing” is not an option?

Parting Thoughts 

The archenemy of sales success is poor strategy development and poor execution. Watch for the tell tale signs of a deal-derailment so you won’t get surprised because if you do—– you’ll need a good excuse to give to your manager.