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10 Short Words That Kill a Sales Deal at the Finish Line

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It’s the end of the month, and you’re just one deal away from hitting your number. You have the contract out … but the prospect hasn’t signed it yet.

With just that one signature, your month is made. Without it, you’re in the red.

In this scenario, the urge to become a high-pressure sales jerk is overwhelming. Believe me, I’ve been there. But if you’re truly committed to serving your buyers, it’s never acceptable to be a jerk. Don’t turn into a jerk just because you are almost at the finish line -- after all, this is when your buyer might need your help the most.

Obviously, yelling and making threatening demands is jerk-y behavior. But I find that many reps kill their deal with rudeness at the finish line without even realizing it. All it takes is 10 short words:

“Why haven’t you been able to get this finished yet?”

Translation: “What is wrong with you that you haven’t signed the contract?” That’s what your prospect hears when you ask this passive-aggressive question. Time of death of your deal: The moment this awful phrase is uttered.

This question makes your prospect feel like they aren't doing a good job getting this done. If you have capably helped your prospect and shown value up until this point and they are ready to buy, don't screw up your hard work at the last minute because you’ve gotten nervous.

Tell your nerves to calm down. Things will work out the way they will work out, but you being annoying and rudely questioning your prospect's process is not going to help them or you.

Modern sales reps never, ever pressure their buyer. Sales is about helping the buyer buy on their timeline, not forcing them to fork over the money when it’s convenient for you.

The next time you inevitably find yourself in this situation, take it as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to helping your prospect. Instead of demanding why the buyer hasn’t gotten the contract back to you, ask open-ended questions to uncover the obstacles they’re facing, and learn how you can best help.

Here are some examples:

  • How can I help you to get started using our product or service?
  • What things need to happen from here to get this approved?
  • What are the next steps you have to take to get approval on this?
  • Who do you work with internally on this and what kinds of things do you think they would have questions on?
  • What kinds of content will help you internally in getting this done?

There’s a line between being assertive and aggressive in sales. Don’t ever -- for any reason -- cross over that boundary. You might think that pushing is the best way to close a deal, but I can guarantee you that the only thing aggression will do is kill a sale -- in record time.

HubSpot CRM

Editor's note: Ali Powell is an inbound marketing specialist at HubSpot. Join the Women in Sales Slack channel to connect with like-minded ladies in sales here.

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