Fly’s Friday Five: How Sellers Can Move Stalled Deals

Written by: Gary Fly
Flys Friday Five

 

I’m excited to be talking with you about stalled deals. Yes, I know that’s exciting. But it’s a topic that has come up in almost every conversation I’ve had over the last two weeks. I’ve done a lot of reading on this, had a number of customer interviews, and talks with business owners. There was a recent article in Chief Executive Magazine, and they used a phrase that indicated that we are continuing to be besieged by uncertainty and disruption. It dawned on me – that may be causing some stalled deals. CEOs and business leaders are still faced with a lot of uncertainty and a lot of disruption. In fact, in that same article, the CEO confidence reached a low point in July, and that is mirrored in some surveys I also looked at done by Vistage. If you look at where we were a year ago, CEO confidence was very high coming out of Q2 of 2021. There was a lot of optimism about the future, and there was only a little talk about disruption and headwinds. Well, that’s all changed because we’ve seen inflation, we’ve seen the macro forces at play, we’re worried about energy prices, all those things.  

 So, as I started thinking about the stalled deals, and it reminds me of A Tale of Two Cities. The opening line is “It was the worst of times; it was the best of times. It was a time of darkness; it was a season of light.” It’s those sorts of things that we’re really focused with right now. We all know the headwinds – inflation, energy issues, supply chain issues, employment issues. However, in a survey done September 6-8, 2022, by CEO magazine, they have found this optimism is going up. In fact, for two straight months, it has gone up. The reason for that is that they believe most CEOs are now believing that the recession will be short lived and only a little dip; that late 2023, we will be in a recovery, that people are returning to work. So, there’s some easing of pressure on the employment side and that the supply chain issues are starting to ease. So, those things that we’ve been so focused on seem to be mitigating a little bit. In fact, the number of CEOs that believe that their revenue will increase in 2023 is now 73%, which is up 10% over the previous month.  

 So, what does this have to do with deals stalling? There are a lot of factors at play that sellers need to be thinking about to help move deals along.  

  1. De-risk the decision for the decisionmaker. What does that mean? It could mean some shared liability or some shared risk in it. It could maybe mean a smaller deal size or a pilot test. You have to find out what it means but thinking about de-risking it for the buyer is one strategy.  
  2. Complete a customer map. We’ve talked before about the number of decisionmakers now involved in deals has gone up. So, doing a customer mapping will help you understand who those decision makers are (here is a free Account Mapping Tool).  
  3. Find the pain that your buyer is trying to solve. I just listed a lot of pain that businesses, in general, are talking about (supply chain, people uncertainty, inflation, and the like). It’s important to understand that most business leaders are talking about those things. So, decisionmakers and purchasers have that in the back of their mind.  
  4. Don’t just transact, advise. Provide a recommendation and explain that recommendation. Explain what you would do in that situation, but work to advise, versus just transact.  
  5. Help the buyer walk the line between expense and growth. That’s what most businesspeople are dealing with right now. They want to invest in your business, but they also need to know they need to preserve capital. So, help them walk that line. Is there an ROI you should be talking about? Is there a revenue implication to what you’re talking about? But understand that that’s the balance. Most business leaders are trying to preserve some cash right now because there still is uncertainty, although that uncertainty is wrapped around some optimism.  

I think it’s really time to take foundational steps now to prepare for 2023 and recognizing what your buyers are dealing with will be a part of that. Always happy to discuss, always happy to debate, happy to provide additional information – please feel free to reach out to me at gfly@thebrooksgroup.com 

Written By

Gary Fly

Written By

Gary Fly

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