Why deals stall & how to get a response

You’ve been there. You had a great meeting. You have a next meeting scheduled. Then you follow up and never hear back. Your prospect disappears.

There are four reasons why deals stall:

1. Your prospect hasn’t said why they want to change

You assume that when prospects agree to meet with you they want to change. But your prospect might be making enough progress with whatever they’re already using.

For example my grandma’s toaster was terrible. Only one side worked, the coils were dim, and it suffered from premature popping.

Despite its many shortcomings, I was never able to “sell” my grandmother on a new toaster. Why? Because our visions of what “a new toaster” meant were different.

I saw this:

  • Faster. Dark toast in 2 minutes vs. 7

But grandma saw this:

  • Slower. The hassle of learning a new TUI (toaster-user interface)
  • Unnecessary expense (money doesn’t grow on trees ya know)

My grandma had no motivation to change. She liked her toast light. And wasn’t in a rush.

You can’t tell people why they need to change.

What happens when you try to persuade people to change for your reasons? They typically retreat. But when people tell you why they might want to change, they’re more likely to take a next step.

Here are four questions that will help you understand your buyer’s motivations for change (if any).

  1. What prompted you to chat with me today? Has something changed?
  2. What does “better” look like 6 months from now?
  3. What have you tried?
  4. Do you want to change?
  5. Why not just keep doing what you’re doing? Why not try a, b or c?

This allows your prospect to explain why they want your offering

For example if my prospect wants more meetings, I might ask, “Why not hire a BDR ?” Typical my prospect will respond with something like, “Well, we’ve gone through 3 BDRs. And haven’t been able to find a good one. And they’re expensive too. Typically $65,000 with benefits.

Now I’ve learned that my prospect is “anchored” at $60,000. Not to mention the opportunity cost of failed BDR searches. If my offering is $15,000 it will feel like a bargain in comparison. The idea is to talk people out of your offering. Pure value based pricing gold. (Hat tip to Jonathan Stark for this approach.)

2. You haven’t determined if the decision maker cares

A mistake I’ve made countless times was thinking a sale was progressing just because prospects agreed to meet with me. Everyone wants everything until someone has to sign, put their job on the line and pay for it. So early on, determine who the decision maker is and if they care about the challenges you solve.

Here are a few question that can help:

Other than you, who else in your organization cares about this?

Is this on Beth’s radar?

Amongst all the things Beth has going on where does this fall on her priority list?

3. Breaking up is hard to do

Circumstances may have changed since your last conversation and your prospect might feel bad about saying “no”. Especially if they expressed interest during your previous conversations.

4. People are crazy busy

Soccer games, emails, meetings, Netflix. You get the picture.

An email that gets a response 60% of the time

Here’s an email you can steal that typically gets a 60% response rate when deals stall. Use this if you’ve followed up a few times over the course of several weeks and haven’t heard back.

Subject: Good bye Beth (for now)

Hi Beth,

We were looking forward to helping you folks generate more services revenue, but I haven’t heard a response to my call and emails. That typically means either you’re too swamped or your priorities have changed (which is not a problem at all). 

Just so I don’t end up being a pest this will be my last email.

If you change your mind and would like to join the other clinics using private labeling to generate sales and foot traffic, please let me know we’ll get cracking on your design.


P.S. – And no this doesn’t mean I’ll stop sending you amazing green smoothie recipes. Unless you want me to.

Why this works

People are loss adverse

When people feel they’re going to “lose” a desired outcome (more services revenue), they’re more likely to hang onto it. It’s the equivalent of telling your kids that you’re going to turn the car around if they keep fighting. (BTW, I’m 0-10,000 when threatening to turn the car around.)

Makes people smile

The intent of the P.S. line is to make someone smile. Smiles diffuse sales pressure making it more comfortable to respond. The green smoothie reference is a “thing” I use to connect with people. Pick a thing early on. Use it later on.