Sales Red Flags and How to Deal with Them
May 22, 2017
So your marketing strategy has paid off big time, and now you’ve got a bunch of qualified leads. It’s time to send them along the sales funnel. However, there are red flags in the sales process you need to look out for before attempting to close a lead. If unnoticed, they might lead you to squander your time and resources on leads that simply aren’t going to convert.
Sales agents are eager to get to yes. But, in their enthusiasm to close a deal, they sometimes overlook warning signs that indicate whether the lead is ready to be sold to or not. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes that 80% of sales professionals make is taking these signs for granted.
Don’t let your marketing efforts go to waste! Identifying and anticipating potential warning signs will help your sales teams counter potential sales objections and focus their efforts on accounts with the highest likelihood of following through.
7 Red Flags to Look Out for When Closing a Sale
1. Your Prospect is Dodging Your Calls
Prospects who are truly interested in what you have to offer will make time for you.
If your lead is suddenly hard to get on the phone, let them know that you are willing to meet with them at a convenient date and time. If they set a date with you, then that means that they’re really interested.
Asking for a scheduled meeting also gives them the opportunity to tell you upfront if they have decided to go another route. This way, you don’t waste any more time on trying to connect with them and focus on other more qualified leads.
2. They Keep Postponing or Canceling Your Scheduled Meetings
When this happens, try to connect with the prospect one last time. Get feedback about why they keep canceling to try to remedy the situation. But, should they cancel again, maybe it’s time to move on. This isn’t the type of client you want to be working with.
3. They Tell You that Your Prices are Too Steep
There are four possibilities:
- You’re dealing with a specific type of customer who only buys at the lowest price
- The prospect believes that there are similar alternatives that cost less
- The prospect does not think the value of your product warrants the cost
- The prospect thinks you’re trying to sell them more than what they need
Since prospects tend to do their own research these days, they’ll be much more informed about their options and alternatives. The worst case scenario is that your price range doesn’t fit their allocated budget (there’s not much you can do about that apart from offering a discount).
You can approach this by empathizing with the prospect, asking them about their budget and expectations. With this information, you can craft a unique value proposition that appeals specifically to their circumstances, whereby the offer’s value clearly exceeds the cost.
4. Your Prospect is Hesitant to Give You a Start Date
Some buyers have a legitimate problem that can be addressed by your products or services. But, unless they see an urgency, they put off the purchase.
A lack of urgency may mean that your prospect doesn’t see an absolute need to get your product or service now. Ask open-ended questions to determine what they really want. Ask them what their objections are. You can also let them know the risks and repercussions of not making the purchase in the soonest possible time to foster a sense of urgency.
5. Your Contact Leaves the Company
There are times when the leads you’ve nurtured suddenly decide to leave the company that you’re targeting. You’ve taken the time and effort to build a business relationship with that person, and now they’re gone. But don’t worry. Your efforts don’t have to go to waste.
Once again, empathize. Let them know that you understand their decision, and should they move to another company and still find the need for your product or service, that you’ll still be there.
You should also ask them to refer you to another contact person at their original company so you can continue with the lead nurturing and sales process. Worst case scenario, you lose the sale, but best case scenario, that one contact turns into two opportunities to sell.
6. Stakeholders Aren’t Involved
In B2B purchases, you’re not just selling to one person. You’re selling to the whole company and stakeholders involved in the purchase decision. Thus, it’s important that all relevant stakeholders are involved so that you can get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
By the time you’ve been asked to make a formal pitch, stakeholders should already be involved. If not, then that’s an obvious red flag. This is common in larger organizations when preliminary research is being done.
To overcome this, you can ask your contact person questions that only the boss can answer. If you establish that the answers can’t be provided by them, then ask for a meeting with the stakeholders. This speeds up your sales process by getting an opportunity to pitch directly to the decision makers.
7. They Aren’t Doing Their Homework
So, they’ve agreed to a meeting where you can impress them with your sales pitch. But in order to present a more customized pitch, you need more specific information from them, and they’re just not providing it to you. Or maybe you’ve asked them to try your product or service for free for a certain period, but they still haven’t done it.
Bottom line, the prospect just isn’t doing what’s required to progress the sale. This means that they’re either too busy or that they don’t care enough to make the effort. Determine what’s stopping them so you can either help them move forward or leave them to their own devices.
Flags, Red or Otherwise, Are Just Another Opportunity
Looking out for these red flags can give you an idea of your buyer’s readiness to purchase. Furthermore, it can help you determine the best strategies and tactics to closing the sale.
These red flags don’t necessarily mean that you need to walk away from a sale and move on immediately. Then again, it helps to know if you’re just wasting your time on a prospect that doesn’t have an intention to buy or a potential customer who isn’t the right fit for your company culture.
At the end of the day, sales teams want to make the sale. So, look out for these red flags and implement the right tactics to counter these objections.
You can also check out these “5 Tips to Help Close That Sale.”