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Are You Chasing A Dying Deal?

By: Jeff Hoffman

You wake up in a great mood because you are still thinking about that great conversation you had yesterday afternoon with a client. You can’t help but think, “That one is in the bag!”  But, when you open your inbox, you can’t believe what you are reading — the client — the same one you thought you had in the bag — just backed out of the deal.

You didn’t see that coming now, did you?

You’d been in regular contact for more than a week.  After the last call you had with the client, you were confident they would call to say, I am in!”  Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out for you as expected.

What’s most unfortunate here is that you wasted your time chasing this deal when you could have developed and secured other clients instead.

So what went wrong?  You let your ego do the driving, and brought your optimistic attitude along for the ride.

Sometimes, optimism weighs you down

You are a creator.  You are guided by instinct and action, but when you add optimism into the mix, it can create a combustible combination. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for being optimistic. Optimism is the “I am going to close this deal, no matter what” attitude. When you are optimistic, you overcome obstacles and you never give up on a deal. However, a lot of optimism can also be your undoing.  You need to adopt the rule of moderation.

Clearly, your optimism has played a vital role in your career. It has helped you capture opportunities and has motivated you in times of rejection.  But your optimism has also put blinders on you.  The blinders take away your ability to forecast a dying deal.  No matter how much you chase it, some deals are just not winnable.  Let’s take a look at the darker side of optimism, so you can proceed with clarity.

Five “Dying Deal” Indicators:

#1 The Prolonged “No…”

Sales reps often overlook subtle or less obvious signs clearly stating the deal is about to meets it demise.  And if you aren’t in tune to those subtle signals, you expend too much wasted time and energy in pursuit of a dying deal.  One such signal is the declining frequency of the conversation between you and the client. If there is a noticeable and increasing gap between recent conversations, then the deal is dying.  If the client is serious about buying what you are selling, they will not wait longer than a week to get on board in later stages of the sales cycle.

#2 Plural Pronouns — Beware of “We,” “Us,” and “Them.”

When the prospective client switches to using “we” and “us” to communicate, it is time you let the bait off the hook because you aren’t likely to catch anything that day. The client you are trying to reel in has just excused themselves from all decision-making responsibilities. They have no intention to buy your product and using plural pronouns is the “corporate” way to get out of a deal.

#3 Euphemisms — The Gentle Way of Saying “No”

When the prospective client uses terms like “It looks good,” “Got it,” or “That’s fine” or something similar, your deal is in jeopardy.  The reason why we often mistake these signs as positive indicators for closing the deal is due to the way clients deliver these generic phrases to us.  What are they really telling you?  Your client is evasive and come time, they are probably going to pass on the deal.  If they are serious buyers, they’ll likely be digging in and asking questions rather than providing vague and non-committal affirmations.

#4 Fragility — Walking on Thin Ice

Have you ever had the feeling that you are walking on thin ice?  With each step you take, the ground will crack and the deal will fall through. If a client is making you feel that way, you have a dying deal on your hands. However, don’t mistake fragility for objections.  When the sales rep has to be extra careful with their words, the relationship between them and the client is fragile.  However, when the client voices their objections or reservations about the product or service, the sales rep still has a chance to convince them to stay on.  In plain words, the client is not a lost cause when they object or raise concerns.

#5. Compliments — They Like You, Not the Product

Clients that compliment sales reps, rather than the products and services, have almost no intention of shaking hands and signing a contract.  They are just using the “It’s not you, it’s me” approach to get out of the deal.  Remember, the goal is to get them to compliment the product, not you.

Don’t waste your time chasing after a dead deal when you can be securing other clients instead.  Instead, stay alert and keep an eye out for these five signs.  If you detect more than one of these signs, you know what to do — STOP chasing, and instead focus your attention on more promising opportunities.

Happy Selling!

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- Bret Wilbur, Director of Sales, TriNet

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