Online sales management

7 Signs Your Deal Is Falling Apart (and How to Save It)

deal falling apart

Throughout my sales career, I had prospects I was certain were going to sign on the dotted line…

And then the deal fell through.

Disappointed and surprised, I moved on, lamenting the loss of that potential client, and the fattened commission that would have come along with it.

After a few of these happenings, I began to analyze each instance, and realized there were signs I missed that these deals were going awry. Over time, I became savvy in recognizing these “clues,” and adept at circumventing the sale from going down the drain.

Typically, there were seven signs the deal was falling apart. Here they are, along with valuable intel on how to save them:

1. Focus on price

Ah, the pain of dealing with competitive pricing…

We have all felt it. Sure, every client aims for the price that fits their budget, but it shouldn’t be their only interest.

If a lead is constantly talking about price instead of benefits and value, you have issues. This deal is primed to sprout wings and fly away from you at any moment.

How to save it

Accept price is an integral component of the negotiation, but it’s not the only thing. If you sell on price alone, you set yourself up for someone to undercut you by a quarter and steal it.

Quantify the benefits and let the stakeholders confirm these back to you. These value point-oriented conversations should outweigh price in your discussions with a would-be client.

You are more than merely a dollar amount.

2. Hedging on details

Sometimes the “whole truth” is tricky…

Explaining shipping costs, time to integrate, and other nitty gritty details can feel like you are practically talking your prospect out of doing business with you. It’s tempting avoid these discussions because they are uncomfortable.

Gloss over these details at your detriment!

Buyers who discover elements about their purchase are missing (or incomplete) feel duped, trust bolts out the window, and the deal dies a quick, painful death.

How to save it

Be confident in your ability to close the sale, even when sharing the finer points of the deal.

Build your credibility from the beginning by being timely, dependable, and following through with every promise you make. When the time comes to discuss the nuts and bolts of the purchase, sit down and explain each detail.

Prospects want to minimize their risk by asking detailed questions. Your answers offer up proof that they can trust you and you will help them succeed. Give them an open forum, and calmly address any objections.

In-depth questioning is actually a great closing sign! Handling it this way increases their connection with you and solidifies the partnership on stable, honest ground.

3. Missing the prospect’s specific need

You may be able to offer the best snow shovel on the market, which is great, unless your prospect lives in Florida.

Sales professionals who find themselves trying to serve a pain that the buyer doesn’t have sets them up for failure, and the deal is likely to end up melting like a snowman in June.

How to save it

Listening and learning is everything.

From the first connection through the demo and negotiation, clever sales people ask solution-based questions, and build their strategy around the answers.

What would the prospect like to accomplish, change, or improve? Is the prospect concerned about turnaround times, compliance, after-sales training, or something else?

Knowing the buyer’s motivation is key in presenting an informed approach the drives the deal to a productive fruition.

4. Not clicking with buyer

Naturally, I would like to think everyone loves me. And most do.

But every now and then my personality just doesn’t connect to the buyer’s. One time a huge prospect got offended that I signed my email “Thanks” instead of the more professional “Thank you.”

It almost cost me the deal.

A buyer may think you look like her horrible ex-husband, your name may be the same as his hateful co-worker, or your personality just might rub him or her the wrong way.

How to save it

Don’t keep plodding ahead, trying to make them like you!

For the love of the bottom line, put your ego aside and bring someone else into the selling process. If you sense the buyer doesn’t vibe with you, talk to your manager, and immediately get him or her involved before the deal goes south.

5. Failing to talk to the Economic Buyer

Selling life is a dodgeball game of gatekeepers and obstacles that keep us scrambling to verify we, indeed, are getting face time with the right person.

Sadly, trying to close a deal with a person who is not the decision maker is a waste of time, and one of the easiest ways to tank a sale.

How to save it

Start qualifying from the beginning.

Ask if any other people should be involved in your conversations, and listen closely to any mention of “let me run this by Ted, our VP.”

If your contact offers even a tidbit of evidence that someone else makes the decision, jump on it and make meeting with them your goal. Otherwise, your deal is dead in the water.

6. Chasing your competitors

We all deal with competitors that make us gnash our teeth and pull at our hair. If your targeted prospect keeps mentioning this competitor’s pricing, and delivery, and warranty, your deal is as shaky as a clubhouse built on an ant hill.

How to save it
Avoid chasing your competitors with “us too” language.

Differentiate yourself and your company throughout the buying journey. Engage specific, measurable talking points about how you are different, better, stronger, and are an overall better business partner.

In addition, securing an ally is a vital move in quantifying these differentiators. Don’t wait until deep in the sale to start this. Collect and quantify these benefits all the way through the sales journey.

7. Not building a Champion in time

You have done all the work, delivered everything that you have been asked to and then the communication goes down.

Deals that close have many iterations in the end to sort out, from terms and conditions, to how implement and how to mitigate risk.

This “lull” is where communication frequently falls apart deal and the deal goes cold. Probably the priorities changed or the competition is closing the deal and you can’t do anything but sit and wait and probably lose the deal.

How to save it

Build up an ally in the account that has power and influence and shares the desire to close a deal with you.

Together, you can plot next steps, run recovery actions once the deal slows down or competition is taking over. Define milestones and fixed anchor points, where you and your champion decide to exchange information and define next steps.


We sales professionals spend too much time and resources cultivating leads to let them slip away. Fire up your sales spidey senses and catch these seven signs your deal is falling apart, and challenge yourself to become proficient at launching a rescue counter-attack.

You will be a better sales person with a greater closing ratio for your efforts.

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