small-business smb-productivity

How to Jumpstart a Stalled Deal

You are scrolling through your pipeline, dreading scrolling your mouse over those deals that are just not moving. You haven’t labeled them as stalled. They may be labeled as “in negotiation” or “contract sent”. No matter where you are left hanging, the feeling of helplessness is frustrating. You aren’t helpless. You have options.  

A stalled deal is NOT a dead deal. 

If you never experienced deals stalling, you are doing something wrong. It happens and is an inevitable part of the process for some deals.  

How you label opportunities:  

Before we dive in, let’s acknowledge that opportunities need to be labeled accurately. Create labels for various stages and possibilities to reflect the reality on the ground. 

“Sales environments that label every sales opportunity as won or lost do not recognize that NO is a good outcome. A buyer is more likely to see a salesperson who disengages in a positive light. They will remember that you gave it to them straight and are more likely to re-engage at a later date. Labeling deals as won or lost, ironically, creates actual losses.”  

Steve Kraner, owner of Software Sales Gurus

Come from a place of curiosity: 

You know what they say about those who assume? You have no idea what could be going on on their end. There could be changes on their end that you don’t know about including: 

  • Staffing changes 
  • Restructuring 
  • A merger 
  • An acquisition 
  • A pandemic (okay…you would have known about that!)  

Ask questions like: 

  • What hesitations do you have? 
  • What is most important to you? What is less important to you? (i.e., Where can you negotiate or shift things a bit to make this work?) 
  • Are there any materials or information that I can provide to help? 

The more you know the more helpful and strategic you can be. You may be able to offer a concession in terms of your timing or package, something that matters less on your end but a lot more on their end, to seal the deal. Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask.  

The fine line between chasing and stalking:  

You don’t want deals stalling BUT you don’t want to be a stalker or spammer. Do not barrage them with excessive calls and emails.  

DON’T keep trying the same thing. 

DO get their attention! Get their attention with tact, grace and purpose.  

  • Flag or create a compelling event that creates a sense of urgency or a deadline:
    • An upcoming vacation. 
    • Company travel. 
    • Prices are going up! 
    • Something that is “out of your hands.” 
    • Send a contract with a deadline – making it clear that the offer will only be relevant if signed by that date.   
  • As a last report – pull the plug! Say that unfortunately this isn’t working. Sometimes playing hard to get as a final last resort can work! (Does this terrify you? Check out our email template here.) 

Make sure you are speaking to the right person:  

If your connection is not as responsive as you would like, you can try reaching out in a more personal manner. You can send them a relevant article, a funny gif or even a handwritten note. Continue nurturing your connection but recognize that something is keeping them from speaking to you.  

At the same time, see if you have another in. Make a new connection on LinkedIn. Two ins are better than one! 

driving_businessman looking at sideview mirror

Make it easier:  

  • Give them some immediate free value. It could be a cheat sheet, a checklist, or a case study. 
  • Offer a deal with less risk or no risk. Explore the possibility of a trial if possible. 
  • Don’t go big! Start smaller. Suggest a beginner’s package. Not the premium platinum package. 
  • Make the close easier. If scheduling a time to speak is delaying the process, offer to make a video instead or give them access to your calendar to schedule a meeting. 

Stalled deals will happen. The best way to encounter fewer stalled deals is by proactively planning your cycle. My best pro tip is to ALWAYS schedule your follow up call. It may be for the next day, week, month or even later, but having it on the calendar is key.