As an account executive, you’ve spent a good amount of time in conversation with the customer. You’ve also taken them through the product demo, and they are in the mid-stage funnel. Things look to be going well, and then suddenly the lead goes cold. The customer won’t return your calls or respond to your emails; it happens frequently to everyone in sales. A seasoned account executive would tell you that you didn’t pick up on the sales signals of the deal going south early on. Therefore in this article, we’ll take a look at five scenarios you will inevitably find yourself in and how to get out of them with a sales opportunity in hand.
Top 5 Sales Signals That The Deal Won’t Close
Buying signals are verbal and nonverbal cues, along with behavioral indicators, that tell you the direction in which your sales opportunity is headed. Once you’re able to recognize these signals, course corrections can be made early on to turn things around. Here are the top 5 signals you need to watch out for as an account executive:
1. Restructure in organizational hierarchy
A change in management frequently brings trouble to a sale in progress. It’s a major problem with enterprise customers as evaluators can also change, thus sending all your lead nurturing efforts down the drain. The new heads who take over could have different priorities or have a competitor’s product in mind. Any kind of restructuring that comes from mergers, acquisitions, or other factors can slowly kill the deal.
How to fix this?
Always stay on top of mind with your customers
As human beings, we have a tendency to drift towards what is familiar—an effect that businesses often leverage to retain their customers’ attention. In behavioral science, it is called the “mere exposure effect.” The psychology behind it is quite simple. As long as you stay on their mind, you will be their first preference when they have to make a decision. Through mere exposure, subliminal messaging is shown to drive product preference and even customer needs. As an account executive, you can continue staying in touch with the new management through:
- An occasional newsletter with helpful tips and information
- Handwritten or personalized cards
- Sending a helpful article that is specific to the customer
- Automated follow-up emails
- Special invites to company events or expos
- Social media engagement
- Email greetings for the holidays and festivals
Show them the value your product offers
92% of customers want to hear the value proposition early in the sales cycle. The management you are targeting will only know the actual value of your product if you show it to them clearly. Before your product’s functionalities begin to speak for themselves, you’ll have to highlight the product’s measurable business value for the customers.
Establish familiarity by mentioning the communication you had with the previous teams. However, refrain from jumping into the sales pitch too early. Do your homework on the new people by asking open-ended questions about their requirements and ideas. Then, make your approach personable and educate the management on the value it can offer the business.
Build multiple relationships within the company
Building good professional relationships with multiple points of contact within the company can go a long way toward helping you maintain your foot in the door. The familiarity that comes from engaging with multiple stakeholders within the company can keep you on their minds during times of change.
While even a product as great as yours can be outclassed in the market by your competition, the relationship you’ve built can strongly influence your customer’s purchase decision.
Send them a personal congratulatory video message
A personalized video message is the next best thing to meeting your customers in person. Send a personal video to the new management on a professional networking site such as LinkedIn congratulating them on the merger or acquisition or the new role. The idea is to build an acquaintance before making a sales pitch, and the key to getting it right lies in your subtlety.
According to the LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2021, 58% of buyers had trust as their primary expectation when working with sales professionals. The same report states that 89% of buyers describe their sales reps as “trusted advisors.” Trust is based on how your customers perceive you from the first point of contact.
2. Prospect reschedules the follow-up meeting multiple times
Except for the few instances where your prospect had genuine reasons to push the meetings forward, frequently rescheduling follow-up meetings can be a sign of disinterest in engaging with you. There could be many reasons why your prospect might do that:
- They don’t need your services at the moment
- You are an unfamiliar person, and they don’t have the time to get to know you
- You are no different from many other vendors buzzing their phones
- They are too busy to start a new conversation
- They are not interested in your service
How to fix this?
The rule of thumb for dealing with this situation is to reschedule immediately. Letting it sit for too long is a sure way to allow your prospects to forget about you. If you are mailing your prospect about rescheduling, then do it via Google Calendar or Calendly and send out the invitation immediately.
Get a slot for the next possible meet
Your prospect has already rescheduled multiple times, and the next one could end up being the same. Now is your opportunity to think outside the box and do something different. Maybe you could ask to reschedule outside of business hours and meet at a nearby coffee shop before work. Being in a different environment away from the buzz of their office might help them see your offer differently.
Schedule a follow-up call on the call itself
A key differentiator for top-performing sales reps is when they get their prospects to commit to a specific day for the follow-up call before they hang up. Ask for a specific date and time to connect next; if they’re unsure, suggest a date and time and wait for them to confirm, or pick a slot that is close to their suggestion.
Setting a deadline is a powerful tactic that solidifies your subsequent opportunity. You can also follow up in a few days with a video reminding them of your meeting, so they feel obligated to attend.
3. Delayed response or lack of response from a prospect who was interacting enthusiastically
The contact at the company you are trying to land has been quite responsive from the start of your interaction. They were also impressed with the demo and showed signs of wanting to close, but became unresponsive out of the blue. You’ve noticed their delayed and unenthusiastic responses, leaving you wondering what you did wrong. Take this as a strong indicator that you weren’t communicating with a decision-maker.
How to fix this?
Always take the top-down approach
Sales conversations that don’t involve a decision maker have a high chance of falling through. To top it all, decision makers are also getting harder to reach. You will most often go through gatekeepers such as administrative assistants, executive assistants, and even secretaries. Nothing is more frustrating than to spend an hour or more presenting to someone your product, only to learn they don’t have the authority.
On the other hand, salespeople are 337% more effective at closing sales when they are able to reach decision makers, according to the Objective Management Group.
While it’s important to make an impression with the human gatekeepers, it is advisable not to work with people who cannot make decisions. If you are skeptical about their authority, move on to the next contact. A bottom-level approach should only be taken to gather enough information to better formulate your pitch to those at the top.
Identifying the decision makers
Navigating your way to the decision maker can be difficult at first because you will have to work your way through a maze of gatekeepers. Typically, the gatekeeper is the first person you would talk to. You can use the opportunity to learn about their hierarchical structure, the stakeholders involved in the buying process, and their evaluation and approval processes. It’s essential to build trust with the gatekeepers, as it helps identify those in authority. To narrow down the decision-makers, here are a few steps you can take:
- Build a decision-maker persona: Decision-makers often have higher job titles such as manager, executive, director, or VP. They often manage the budget and oversee strategy. Their tenure is also a good indicator of decision-making authority, as they often possess the institutional knowledge to make important decisions.
- Research: Research the company to familiarize yourself with its structure, and use LinkedIn to learn more about the different stakeholders. Also with advanced search, you can figure out the specific job titles and the people who are in those roles.
Ask qualifying questions: These questions will give you a bigger picture of how purchasing decisions are made and all the people involved in the process. It helps you narrow down the decision-makers with a fair degree of accuracy. Qualifying questions can include:
- Aside from yourself, who else is involved in the decision-making process?
- What is the process we need to go through before this purchase can be approved?
- Who else should we include in my presentation so there is clarity across the board on the product and the value it brings to your organization?
- Implementing a product like this can get tricky; who else should be on board this presentation so it can go smoothly?
- What criteria are the other decision-makers using to evaluate the purchase?
All stakeholders and contacts at the prospect company stop responding to you
You did your homework on the company and managed to build a multi-threaded channel of communication with different stakeholders. It looked like a promising sale, but suddenly you get ghosted by everyone at the prospect company. Nobody is responding to your calls, emails, or messages! Ghosting is often a quick alternative to what might otherwise be a lengthy and awkward conversation saying “no” to your products.
There are a number of reasons your prospects might ghost you, such as:
- Your timing is off, and the prospects have other priorities
- You have not done a good job of showcasing the value of the product
- Your prospects are working on a better deal with your competitor
How to fix this?
Use FOMO to draw their attention back
The FOMO (fear of missing out) technique makes your prospect feel that they are missing out on an opportunity by not utilizing your product. To nudge the prospects into this state, all you need to do is show how successful their competitors are by using your product. A competitor’s success is a clear indicator of your product’s value and solid social proof that it works. Create FOMO using mail subject lines such as:
- Learn how (XYZ) company gained an ROI of 69% with our tool
- 3 ways our software can boost your sales
- We’ve figured out precisely what your (related) department needs
- Here is the information you’ve been missing
Show them your commitment
Most often than not, your POC might ask you to reconnect the following week by saying something along the lines of, “Hey, let’s talk next week.” Instead of simply holding off all communications until the following week, make sure they remain in the loop. Stay prompt in following up with them and always keep in touch with them by sending useful information, statistics, or case studies.
Also, show them your commitment by offering useful information about the benefits of the product to their business specifically and projections for the next quarter so they have a clear vision of what to expect. If you can offer commitment and clarity, they may turn around and root for your product or service.
Have a well defined playbook
Creating a well-written playbook for AEs on how to deal with fading prospects can go a long way in turning things around, especially when they are less experienced. Playbooks contain methodologies, information, resources, strategies, and personas in a framework to help them close deals efficiently. It should also account for personalization so individual AEs can add their unique touch to the process.
4. A trial account given to the prospect goes unused for more than a week
You’ve given your prospect a trial account after the product demo so they can explore the features and get a feel of the product. However, you notice that they haven’t used the product even after a week of giving them access. A prospect genuinely interested in your product should have used it by now. If they go longer than a week without using it, chances are you’re losing the sale.
How to fix it?
Personalize your demo
If your prospect is hesitant to try the product, chances are your demonstration wasn’t up to the mark. 70% of B2B customers expect vendors to personalize engagement according to their needs. What they want is a demo that precisely shows how your product can meet their demands and solve their problems. What they don’t want is a demo that fits all sizes.
The discovery call you had at the beginning is a treasure trove of information on the prospect’s budget, needs, challenges, and pain points. This information can be tailored to create a personalized demo that gives them a perspective of what can be expected.
By showing the exact use case for their needs, you can shorten the learning curve and nudge prospects toward using the product right off the bat.
Learning to recognize signals within your sales opportunity is critical as AEs continue to experience diminished time frames, especially when their prospects are considering multiple solutions. Recognizing the signals early on can lead to faster response time to save a deal. However, it’s also essential to emphasize that even the most experienced salespeople can’t close every prospect.
The best case is to leverage the power of technology to create compelling sales pitches and demos that hit the mark every time. Video selling is one such tool, with use cases in every scenario we’ve explored in the article.
Personalized videos can be used in every stage of the sales funnel. From prospecting, sales pitches, product demonstrations, and customer experience management, videos are the way forward to humanize the selling process. With a platform such as Hippo Video, you can automate and scale the creation of personalized videos without breaking a sweat. So go on and leverage the power of videos to turn a sales opportunity into a customer. Request for a demo today to learn how!