Next free session: April 4th sign up now

6 Tactics to Move Stalled Deals Forward.


6 Tactics to Move Stalled Deals Forward.

By: Jeff Hoffman

When a deal stalls, it’s tempting for the salesperson to unknowingly put themselves first. We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. You might repeat the close, not-so-subtly threaten the prospect with an expiring discount, or roll several asks into one conversation.

These tactics are a surefire way to turn stalled deals into cold ones.

Below, I’ve outlined six strategies for moving stalled deals forward. They keep your prospect the focus, give them option and escape routes, and help you avoid becoming your own worst enemy — the stereotypical pushy salesperson.

1. Don’t Repeat Your Close 

If the prospect gave you a soft yes — and then nothing — or a warm no, never follow up with the same close. Your next request should be a different, lighter ask. 

For example, if your champion was supposed to introduce you to someone in Procurement, but they never followed through, your follow-up question might be, “When do you want to start implementation?” This is an easier ask that doesn’t require action. 

Even though your original question didn’t receive a no, if you continued to push it might have. Your goal for every email or phone conversation is not to get a yes or no — the goal is engagement. When a deal is stalling, your focus is singular: Get your prospect on the phone talking. 

2. Don’t Corner Your Prospects

Nobody likes to feel trapped. When you’re working toward a goal in sales, give your prospect ample exit opportunities. If you’re coordinating a demo and your prospect is unwilling to confirm a date, let them know they can reach you by phone or email if they need to change the demo date or time once it’s scheduled.

This makes listening to your pitch feel like an option, helping you get a firm date on the calendar and decreasing the likelihood your prospect flakes at the last minute or ghosts entirely.

3. Don’t Compound Your Close

Only use one close at a time, and always be direct. As a rule of thumb, don’t include “not” or “and” in your closing language. For example, let’s say your goal or close involves getting the right people in your demo, including decision maker Jerry. Many of us are tempted by the compound close — asking multiple questions at once. Compound closes sound like, “Could you invite Jerry to our demo? And is there anyone else who needs to be there?”

If you ask a compound question, you’ll receive a compound answer. And your prospect will likely only process and answer the easier question.

Instead, ask two questions. Start with, “Should Jerry be invited to this demo?” After your prospect has responded, “Yes, he should. I’ll reach out to him today.” follow up with, “And is there anyone else who should be there?” You’ve broken a compound question into two manageable questions, making it easier for your prospect to answer both.

4. Close Something Light, First

Flex your selling muscles. Start every deal by closing for a phone number, an intro, or a meeting. This introduces the idea of the customer saying yes to you. Once you’ve made a small “sale,” move on to bigger asks like asking to speak with a decision maker.

Remember, never close the same thing twice. If you ask, “Could you connect me with your boss?” and don’t receive an answer, ask, “Who’s going to be the primary contact after the sale?”

You’ve followed an unsuccessful close with a lighter ask, and you’ve avoided asking the same question twice. Once you receive a successful answer to this light request, you can continue asking questions to lead the prospect back to your initial question.

5. Keep the Close Prospect Centered

Make sure every close includes “you” and clearly identifies a finish line. Instead of saying, “What’s a good time for us to meet?” ask, “When are you free to meet for 30 minutes this week?”

In the first example, you say “us.” This is problematic for two reasons:

1. If they’re not your client, there is no “us” yet.
2. You haven’t provided a timeline. If your prospect doesn’t really want to talk to you, you’ve made it easy for them to push the meeting back several weeks.

In the second example, you keep the question prospect-centered by asking when they’re free. Then you define how long your next meeting will take (30 minutes) and when it should happen (this week). It’s a clearly de ned request that keeps your prospect feeling valued and in control.

6. Send a New Quote

If the end of the month or quarter is near and your prospect still hasn’t closed, wait until there are about three days left and send a new contract.

By this time, you’ve likely offered them a discount, so sending them a new contract with non-discounted pricing can be the wakeup call they need to move forward. Instead of warning, “You’re going to miss out on this great discount,” which they likely won’t believe, a new contract makes the new price real and looming.

Don’t be pushy or aggressive — simply send an email saying, “At the end of the month, please replace our old contract with this new pricing structure.” This allows them to call and discuss the price.

Even if they still can’t close before the end of the month or quarter, this keeps the conversation going and allows you to extend the discount when appropriate.

If they do want to close by the end of the month, be careful in framing the question. Ask, “Would you like to close now? The deal expires by the end of the month.” This is a less pushy way of saying, “The discount is only good through the end of the month. Can you close now?”

Stalled deals can be scary for salespeople. They threaten your number and eat up valuable time and resources. These six strategies turn stalled deals from frustrating to promising — and finally get you over the finish line.

How To Close Your Next (And EVERY) Call…

How To Close Your Next (And EVERY) Call…

By: Jeff Hoffman

The age of “Always Be Closing” is dead. Or is it?

Sleazy sales tactics and aggressive closing techniques don’t work on modern buyers, so reps must embrace a different kind of closing mindset. That’s why I train salespeople to “close” at the end of every interaction with their prospects. You shouldn’t ask for the order until the time is right — but you should ask for incremental commitments.

Why Incremental Closing Works

Incremental closing is effective for three reasons.

First, as psychologist Robert Cialdini explains in his best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, people instinctively act in ways consistent with their past behavior.

That means getting prospects in the habit of saying “yes” makes them far likelier to commit at the end of the negotiation process.

Second, this technique takes advantage of another cognitive bias: The sunk cost fallacy, which states that investing time or energy into an activity or decision dramatically increases your likelihood of finishing it. Once the buyer has made a series of small commitments for the rep, they won’t want to abandon the work they’ve put into the deal — so sticking with the status quo becomes less appealing.

Third, incremental closing creates momentum. Sales isn’t about convincing people to do things they don’t want to. It’s about inspiring urgency. Asking someone to make a small decision in the moment speeds up their journey to the ultimate decision: Whether they’ll buy or not.

How to Use the Incremental Close
To get started, you should map out the requests you’ll make at every stage of the sales process. These requests should gradually increase in size or importance as you spend more time with your prospect and earn their trust.

Here’s a sample sequence:

  • First email interaction: Ask for the prospect’s cell phone number
  • First call: Ask the prospect to review a piece of content (and use HubSpot Sales Pro to track if they actually open it and how they interact with it)
  • Second call: Ask for access to power or insight into the decision maker
  • Demo: Ask them to set up a call with their company’s procurement team
  • Post-call with procurement: Close
  • You should adapt their asks to the length of your sales process. The longer the process, the more requests you can reasonably make.

Not only does incremental closing give reps valuable information and resources, it also tells you how the deal is progressing. For instance, it’s a red flag if the buyer refuses to connect you with the signing authority.

Why Reps Struggle to Incrementally Close
If incremental closing is so effective, why isn’t every salesperson doing it? Many incorrectly believe their prospects will be turned off by their “demands.” But if you consistently provide value to buyers, making a small request won’t seem unreasonable or selfish. On the contrary, prospects typically recognize it’s in their best interests to work with you.

Some reps struggle to incrementally close because they don’t have the requisite closing vocabulary. People aren’t born knowing how to close: It’s something you must learn. The good news is that practicing incremental closing simultaneously improves your traditional closing skills.

Here are a few resources you can check out to improve your ability to close:

  • The Rookie Sales Mistake That Kills Done Deals
  • 3 Effective Sales Closing Techniques for Modern Sales Reps
  • 13 Closing Phrases That Seal a Sales Deal

Measuring Your Success With This Technique

Once you’ve built incremental closes into your sales process, it’s simple to track success. Simply record how many times you follow your new closing plan.

For instance, if a rep has 15 discovery calls in one month, and she asks 14 of those prospects for access to procurement, her success rate is 14 out of 15.

Some salespeople are tempted to gauge success by how many “yes’s” they get. I advise against this — you can’t control your prospect’s response, you can only control your own behavior.

If you’re consistently asking for things from the buyer and not getting them, you should stop working that account. The buyer is sending a clear signal they’re not truly invested in the opportunity.

Incremental closing won’t turn non-buyers into buyers. It’ll make buyers purchase more quickly. And the sooner your prospects make decisions, the more opportunities you can focus on.

Happy Selling!

Don’t Neglect Your Greatest Source Of Leads… Your Customers!

Don’t Neglect Your Greatest Source Of Leads… Your Customers!

By: Jeff Hoffman

Are you a hunter or a farmer? In the sales world, those two terms describe the strategy a sales rep uses to close deals. Which approach should you use? Well, there’s certainly a place for both strategies in sales, but at times we place too much emphasis on that shiny new account and overlook the treasure trove that lies within our existing portfolio. So for this blog, let’s take a closer look at why it’s beneficial to be a farmer.

A farmer:

  • Nurtures leads
  • Fosters client relationships
  • Cultivates customer loyalty
  • Your greatest source of farming is the pool of existing customers to whom you have successfully sold your company’s services and products. If you stick to the customers you have brought into the fold, you may even put cold calling on hold for a bit.
  • That may sound unrealistic at first – how will you meet quota without securing new customers? But, look a bit closer and it is really just a function of better utilizing your time to become more efficient with resources by leveraging your current book of business.


The Trick is to Control your Calendar

What is the biggest barrier standing between you and potential clients? — Time! Since the day you became a sales rep, time has become your worst enemy. There are only so many hours in a day and working days in a quarter – so we have to become more efficient.

Think of this example and how it can change your approach…

  • You have 210 days in a year
  • Within those 210 days, it takes you an average 90 days to close a sale.
  • If you can reduce that sales cycle to only 81 days, you’ll have 10% more time to sell
  • To do this, you can focus on your existing customers since some of that leg work is already done
  • Since they are already familiar with the entire sales process, selling them additional services/products or renewing contracts will not take as much time
  • With about 10% of time shaved off the top – you’ll be able to add a few more deals to your pipeline
  • The TRICK: The trick to pulling this off is to work on deals that have already reached an advanced stage of the sales process.

Controlling time is not the only way you will close more deals each quarter, you can also master the art of up-selling and cross-selling.

Up-Selling and Cross-Selling Are the Real Winners Here

When up-selling, you use your persuasion skills to encourage the customer to invest in a higher-end product, whereas in cross-selling, you invite them to invest in a related product or service. Both strategies have huge upside when applied properly – and promptly.

Sales reps typically wait six months before calling the client again to sell another product/service, but this is often a lost opportunity.

  • Leverage the sweet spot: You need to pick up the phone and schedule a call with them within 21 days from the time they signed the contract
  • The three weeks time frame or the “honeymoon” phase is actually your best chance of making another sale
  • This means ditching the usual type of conversation you have with your clients when it’s time to sell them another product/service
  • For instance, customers who are up for renewal will expect you to call them within 90 days of their next renewal. They’ll likely appreciate touching base in the first few weeks after signing the contract. And, even if you are unsuccessful in your early efforts to up-sell or cross-sell, you will have at least established a good relationship with them.

If they don’t renew the contract and it expires, you need to practice traditional account management tactics. You are looking to make a sale here. Instead, you will contact them after three weeks to ask the customer to provide you with a feedback

What’s Next

After you’ve worked the opportunities that live in the honeymoon phase, you still need to keep that client on your radar. Calling them a week before expiration is far too late. The next step would be to check in 3 months after your close. This is the perfect time to see where you stand and how things are going with questions such as:

  • “How do you like our products/services?”
  • “Can you please provide us with a “letter” grade to rate our products/services?”
  • At this stage, we are moving away from up-selling and cross-selling and instead, using our traditional account management strategies to search for selling opportunities. Our interaction will now revolve around asking for the customer’s feedback.


The Customer’s Feedback

The customer will rate us an “A,” “B” or an “F.” “A” is really the only grade you want at this point. An “A” grade gives you the permission to take the relationship to a deeper level and to broach the topic of up-selling or cross-selling as appropriate. “Bs” mean the customer is not satis ed and you need to try to move them up to an “A.”

The good thing is that when you learn that you are rated only a “B”, the relationship is totally salvageable because you better understand their expectations. An “F” means the customer is not likely to renew the contract and is already in the process of cutting ties with your company. Clearly, no explanation is required if your graded an “F” after three months – it’s time to cut your losses and refocus your attention. It’s also worth examining what went wrong to ensure you aren’t in a similar situation again.

If you want to beat your sales quota, you can’t afford to overlook the customers you already have. And, clearly it’s not about asking them for referrals. It’s about becoming an asset to your customers and finding meaningful ways to deepen your relationships. When you adopt the practice of farming, good things happen to your bottom line.

Happy Selling!