In sales, there are generally three signs that a deal is headed south. The first sign is frequent or prolonged delays. If you’re being deferred to other decision makers or denied access, you’re in the delay zone. The second sign is a shift in information or key players. Are you suddenly being introduced to new executives, requirements, or caveats? The third and very obvious sign that your deal is going nowhere is a flatline in communication. If there is suddenly no connection or response from contacts, you’re definitely on the ropes.
If and when any of the above signs crop up, don’t panic. Instead, admit it and deal with the problem head on. Bring your team together and determine where things got off track. Generally, a deal gets stuck due to one of four reasons:
1. Factors beyond your contact’s control impacted the deal (e.g., a budget freeze, job changes, etc.).
2. No opportunity ever existed and soliciting RFPs was simply corporate protocol.
3. The prospect believes your solution is a poor fit but hasn’t yet said so directly.
4. Your solution is a good fit, but the prospect has concerns about some aspect of the deal (e.g., your team, process, or resources).
If the deal is stuck because of the first two possibilities, your best bet might be to cut your losses and walk away. If this is a solvable problem, however, you have some options:
1. Recruit more people from the prospect’s side. This can add energy to your campaign and lend support to your approach.
2. Reconsider the problem and stakeholders. Did you accurately define the problem up front?
3. Consider how you might better align with your prospect. Too much change proposed is scary to prospects, but proposing a deal with too little impact will not help you gain support, either.
4. Find out if you can resubmit a business case. If the return on investment from the business case is not compelling, go back to the drawing board and reexamine.
5. Trade out some of the people on your team. If you have reason to believe the prospect dislikes or mistrusts someone on your team, send in a sub. Trust and likability are critical to a successful close.