P&C insurance deals, like many high-tech enterprise sales, can be difficult to predict. The insurance market is riddled with regulations, and companies tend to be risk averse. When purchasing technology, they typically involve many decision-makers and many months. So how do you determine the timeline for closing a deal? Base your plans on clear account intelligence about the schedule your buyer expects to follow; then strategize ways to prevent delays and even nudge them a little faster.
Ask Your Buyers, “How Do You Determine the Timeline for Closing a Deal?”
You’ll have the most success estimating the timeline for a sale if you understand what buyers have to do to get a purchase approved and processed. What hurdles do they need to leap? How long does the company typically take to make a decision? What internal selling do your champions have to do to bring other groups on board?
It’s also important to know where the decision points are. At what stages do they determine whether to move forward with you? And once they’ve chosen your solution how long does procurement usually take? Determine whether higher-value deals typically require more scrutiny or if software is handled differently than services.
You’ll probably need an inside ally to help you understand the process from the buyer’s point of view. With their guidance, you can use buyer engagement to ask better questions that drill down on the process and uncover what buyers need from you. And armed with accurate intelligence, you can align selling activities with the account’s process and set a realistic timeline for the deal.
Uncover How Timelines Get Derailed
Of course, the best-intentioned plans go astray. Many things out of your control can stall a deal. Key decision makers change roles or leave the company. The economy takes a turn for the worse. Even a natural disaster (or a pandemic) can refocus priorities and pull back budget.
But there are other timeline hazards you can manage if you know what to watch for. Ask your inside champion why past deals bogged down or didn’t close. For example, in many P&C insurers, the company culture resists new technology. Or previous vendors may have oversold their solution, leaving buyers wary.
Remember that many large insurance companies have been in business for decades. They’ve invested in building trust with their clients, and they expect your team to build trust with them. Also consider whether your technology is unproven in the account. New solutions which are hot in the insurance market, such as telematics and artificial intelligence (AI), might need more time to prove they meet industry or company protocols around security and compliance.
Plan to Bypass Deal-Killing Delays
Once you know what’s likely to stretch out the timeline, you can strategize a sales plan that avoids the pitfalls. For example, insurance buyers can’t afford to take risks. They think ahead to the long-term advantages and disadvantages of deploying technology. If they’re worried that possible future liabilities outweigh the promised value of your offer, help them make a fair judgement with concrete data, demos, and a realistic ROI.
Determine the types of information most meaningful to buyers, such as the details they want to see in a demo or the people on your team they’re most likely to connect with. Do they want to talk with technical people or executives? What kind of case studies, social proof, or pilot projects make the best impact and keep the deal on track?
Focus engagement on building trust with buyers. Avoid inflated claims and overselling that erodes authenticity. It’s hard sometimes to know when to rein in enthusiasm or how to address the weaknesses of your solution, but if you handle buyer interactions deftly, you’ll build a strong foundation of trust that keeps the sale progressing.
To avoid all these potential setbacks, consult with an industry insider who knows the account very well, have them review your presentations and meeting agendas. They’ll help smooth out speed bumps and match your messaging and actions to the buyers’ expectations, so you won’t have to back up and start again at any point.
Nudge the Timeline Forward at the Crucial Moments
Even better than knowing the answer to “How do you determine the timeline for a deal?” is knowing the answer to “How can you speed up the timeline for deal?” Some deals slow down when buyers get distracted or there’s poor internal communication among the buying and purchasing teams. But some sales actions can gently nudge decision makers back into motion.
P&C Insurance firms rarely make snap decisions, and they might react badly if you push too hard. Make sure any plans to nudge buyers are well-founded in account intelligence. Work with experts who’ll suggest ways to encourage and motivate prospects without putting them off. For example, are there ways you can proactively support the sales and purchase process, providing content before it’s asked for? Are there any buyers who are interrupt driven and need more engagement to maintain the pace?
Occasionally, the account just needs more time, or the team gets distracted by other insurance priorities such as regulatory audits or a new product rollout. But your champion ally will help you recognize the right time when distractions have died down and you can rev up the process once more.
Enhance the Predictability of Sales Timeline Planning with Emissary’s Human Intelligence Network
You find many common elements in any B2B technology sales cycle, but mapping the timeline for any one account relies on a thorough understanding of each company’s idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, that information isn’t posted in the quarterly reports. For reliable intelligence, you need a partner who’s had experience inside the account.
Emissary Advisors have worked at your target companies as executives and technology buyers. They’ve ushered many technology projects through the sales process and understand why and how your prospects buy.
Advisors help you identify pain points, buying committees, objections, and hidden competitors. They review sales strategies, marketing content, and demos from the buyers’ perspective and give you an accurate, detailed understanding of the account’s buying process, which you can translate into a realistic sales timeline for a successful close.