As a sales rep, you know that you win some deals and you lose some -- and the ones you lose often have to do with things that are far beyond your control.
Which is why you know that even if a prospect’s starting to doubt your company, there’s still some things you can do about it to reel them back in and change their mind. The six indicators below are signs that you’re starting to lose the deal.
1) Your prospect’s making you do all the talking
If your prospect asks you question after question after question, they’re probably looking for holes in your arguments and reasons not to hire you.
The solution is easy enough -- throw their game right back at them. Use the questions they’ve asked as an opportunity to find out more about their concerns.
For example, let’s say your prospect is concerned with your cloud software’s capabilities to grant and limit access to different people. Maybe your software isn’t the best in the industry, but that doesn’t meanyour software couldn't help them.
Instead of tripping over your own words and potentially losing the sale, ask them what kind of sharing and limiting capabilities they’re looking for. When they respond with requirements that you can in fact cover, say “Yes, we can do that,” and then move on to ask them a question that’s more related to the fundamental ways your software could rock their world.
The more you listen, the more information you get, and the more power you have to help them and close the sale.
As crazy as it may sound since you’re a salesperson hired to talk, you can in fact let the conversation dip for an entire second without saying something. You’d be surprised how much more your prospect will talk. They’ll focus on what matters to them, and you can use their phrasing and these concerns in a magnificent proposal they won’t be able to turn down.
2) They sit back with their arms (or legs) crossed
If they do this, even though they’re not saying anything and might be looking directly at you, consider it as them yelling at you that they’ve totally checked out of the conversation. Because they have.
But negative body language can be easily reversed. Simply hand your prospect something they have to lean forward (and uncross their limbs) to get.
Then get them talking about their problems or the issues they’re trying to solve for before they can slip back into a guarded posture.
3) They ask about your price before you’ve ever met
These people are price shoppers -- some of the worst prospects to sell to.
Price shoppers usually don’t understand the subtle differences of what you and your competitors do, and they’re not interested in spending time to learn about them. They just know that they have a job that needs to be done.
See if you can get them to answer a few quick questions that’ll help you better assess their needs to give a quote along with some context around it. It might not be one of your easiest sales, but you’ll get your foot in the door.
Just so I have a sense of what you’re looking for, what’s the end goal you’d like to accomplish with [insert your service]?
How quickly would you like that done?
What’s getting in your way of accomplishing that right now?
Hopefully these “quick” questions will get them talking and at least get them to reveal some information you can use to put together a better proposal.
If they don’t want to talk at all, cover your bases by giving them a price range, starting from your lowest price to a nicely padded figure based on what an estimation of their needs. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best hope you have to position yourself for further conversation.
4) They mention they’ll have to ask their boss
This means your point of contact isn’t the actual decision maker, so a lot of what you say could get lost in translation.
Ask to schedule a short call or meeting with your prospect and their manager. If you’re unable to connect with the decision maker, make sure your proposal speaks for itself and minimal explanation is required from your end.
You don’t want the power of the potential help that your company can provide to be in the hands of a potentially less-qualified middleman. Get as many of your original words as possible directly to that decision-maker.
5) They’re constantly comparing you to other companies
Many prospects don’t mean anything by this -- they’re just trying to do what’s best for their business.
Rather than getting defensive and assuming they’re just trying to get a discount, go into consultant mode. Tell them the package they should go with (even if it’s with another company) depends on what their most pressing needs are, and talk with them to figure those out.
Then make suggestions and be helpful. Be willing to admit that your company can’t be everything for everyone.
Because being genuinely helpful will put you in their favor and earn you referrals -- while being salesy will just get you hung up on.
To help win your case, you can give specific case study numbers from current or former clients in similar position to theirs, and maybe even throw in a little bonus since that might be all they wanted to start with.
6) They’ve checked out and seem indifferent
This can happen at any point in the conversation, but is particularly common when start talking about features and product specifics.
In fact, they might be giving you some of the same body language from tip #2, or you may just feel the dead air of absent-minded “mmhmm” on the other side of the line.
“People spend up to half their time not thinking about the task at hand, even when they’ve been told explicitly to pay attention,” author Carl Zimmer wrote in Discover Magazine.
The key is to break the setting.
If you’re meeting in person, ask if you can show them a demo and then physically shift (around your own office, if you’re there), or even just your position at their office table to show them something on your own computer screen. You might even ask them to shift their chair to make sure they physically check back in.
If you’re speaking on the phone, send them an interactive demo link where they can experiment putting in some of their information and seeing what the output would be.
You Know You’ve Got Them Nearly Sold When…
How do you know when you can start playing offense instead of defense?
It goes beyond body language and can be detected in the actual words they’re saying.
If they start to refer to their product instead of your product, you’ve nearly got them.
If they start asking questions about how your product would fit in and interact with other elements of their day-to-day, you’re nearly there.
If they ask about upkeep or actually start doing your sales for you (talking about the benefits it will provide them), all you really have to do is not mess up too bad, and they’re sold.
What are some ways that you’ve turned a sales conversation around to be in your favor? What red flags gave you warning that you needed to do something?
Originally published Jan 19, 2016 7:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017