A common question I receive from many of my sales coaching clients is why does a sale stop moving forward, even when you are saving them money. In other words, how do you start a stalled prospect?
One moment it seems that the prospect can’t wait to buy. And then the next, for one reason or another, everything stops.
What is a Stalled Prospect?
Hubspot defines stalled prospects as: “‘Stalled sales’ is a relatively loose term that typically refers to deals where a prospect is reluctant to continue negotiating. In these instances, a prospect might be difficult to reach, offer obviously inaccurate answers to your inquiries, or refuse to complete next steps.”
This is a very accurate description of a common situation salespeople find themselves in every day.
Starting a Stalled Prospect – A Real Life Example
Below is an example of an objection that stalled a sale, as well as my answer on how to start to move things forward again.
Question: I have completed my sales process, and the next step is for my contact to talk to his partners. The problem is it's been weeks and the partners haven't met yet, even when I am saving them money. Any ideas how I can move things forward? – Derek, Denver, CO
Answer: Derek, many sales require a consensus from a group before they can close. However in this case, your contact may not truly see the value of your solution. Therefore he may be hesitating in setting up a meeting with his partners to put your solution forward.
A Question to Start Stalled Prospects
Starting a stalled prospect start with asking the right questions to close the sale. A great question that works well in situations like these is 'Mr. Prospect, in your opinion, is this proposal the right solution for your organization today so that you would recommend it to your partners?' If your prospect says yes, great! The customer sees the value of your recommendation. Dig deeper as to when the partners will meet next and confirm your solution will be on the agenda. You can even ask to attend the meeting so you can answer any questions that may come up.
However, if your prospect says no, or hums and haws, he is not yet convinced of the value of your solution. The partners have not discussed your solution yet because the partner you are working with doesn't think it warrants further discussion. He is just telling you an excuse as to why things aren't moving forward.
Resell the Benefits of Your Solution
You need to resell the benefits of your solution, or you may need to rework the solution itself. The prospect may also need to see further proof that you can do what you say you can do before he takes it to his colleagues.
To move forward, ask you prospect, 'In your opinion, what would need to change in our proposal so you would recommend it to your partners?' This will open the discussion again so you can flush out the prospect's true objection and proceed to move the sales process towards a successful conclusion.
The Buying Signals are All Green, But the Propsect has Stopped
All sales professionals have had this problem with a prospect at one time or another. They were a hot prospect sending you all the right buying signals. Then all of the sudden they switched off. Now they don't return your calls. The prospect is unresponsive to your emails and now you are left in sales limbo.
Do you keep calling? After all, when you last spoke to the prospect, they were set to proceed. Now they are missing in action. What can you do?
Is It Time To Close the File on The Stalled Prospect?
I would like to share a quick little tip from my business partner, Robert J. Weese that works well. If you have a good relationship with the prospect, take one last shot to see if the person is still engaged. Send them an email that says you are going to 'close their file'.
Simply state that you have tried to reach them by phone and email. Since they are not responding, you would like to close the file. Let them know if their situation has changed and they are no longer in the market for your product/service it would be best to close the file and move on.
Email Template to Start Stalled Prospects
An Email Template To Start a Stalled Prospect
To see an email template example, download EMAIL TEMPLATE TO RESTART STALLED PROSPECTS. It’s available for free from the B2B Sales Connections Free Download Centre.
You will be amazed at how many times you get a message back almost immediately apologizing for their lack of communication and telling you the project is still a go but they were caught up in a more urgent internal problem.
As Bob says, in the world of sales you can get 'yes', 'no' and 'maybe'. I want to hear yes, or no because they are answers that give me a clear next step. Getting tied up with the clients who are a maybe will drain you and waste a lot of valuable selling time.
Take a minute and offering to close the file, no questions asked. You will be surprised how many valid prospects let you know they are still interested but they not ready at this moment. Most often the person will tell me their new time frame or suggest we reconnect. Armed with their permission to proceed I will reconnect with them when the time is right and advance the sales process.
Remember as John Wooden once said, “'If we fail to adapt, we fail to move forward.'
“… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”
Do you have a question about sales? You're not alone. Most sales people have questions like this on how they can sell more. For the right answers, check out my book, Ask the Sales Coach-Practical Answers to the Questions Sales People Ask Most.