Save the Sale You Might Lose


  1. No urgency to get the deal done

SYMPTOM:  The prospect will not engage in a serious discussion about buying your product or moving forward with the alleged project you hope to work on. Probing questions about the product, or about the solutions your service would provide, are deflected.

TACTIC:  Look for a way to take an advisory role.  Surely you’ve been given some information about the client’s reason for speaking with you? Build on it.

If the prospect has no questions, then you propose them.  Start by asking if the project/ need, or something similar, was previously addressed in-house or by another vendor?  Find out what was done in that instance and the outcome—could that solution be implemented in this circumstance ? Are there certain refinements and customization of product specifications or services that the prospect  would find potentially useful this time around? Point out how you can fulfill those expectations.

Your goal is to spark some interest and get the prospect’s wheels turning to envision how you can deliver what is needed and concluding that you should be awarded the sale.

2.   No firm project deadline

Early in conversation with a prospect, it is advisable to inquire about the timeline.  It’s often safe to assume that conversation is taking place because the need is immediately urgent, but that is not always the case.

SYMPTOM: Sometimes, clients will contact a Freelancer merely to learn what types of services are available from an outside expert and how much these services cost.  Next year’s budget may be on the drawing board and the client is in no rush to fund a sale at this time.

TACTIC: Find out as much about the project specs as possible and offer the client a discount that is good for 8 – 12 weeks.  Give a 25% discount (or make it appear that you have done so!) for a project that is started within three months.

But if it becomes obvious that the prospect is not going to kick things off anytime soon, leave your card and walk away.  Stop wasting time.

3.   You’re not speaking with the decision-maker

SYMPTOM: You know or suspect that the person with whom you are speaking may not have the authority to green-light the project or sale.  It’s not uncommon to have an early conversation or two with a lieutenant in the company, but important deals are basically never negotiated by anyone but the C-Suite, Directors or VPs.

TACTIC: Show respect for the person you’re speaking with and ask if s/he is the decision-maker (you may be able to guess by the job title).  If the decision-maker is your contact’s boss, ask when the boss will join your meetings.  Suggest bringing the boss in by Skype or conference call, so s/he can directly ask questions of you and you can sell the person who  needs to be sold.  The boss will also be able to confirm the budget and any deadlines.

4.   Your price is too high

SYMPTOM: The prospect feels that your price is too high.  This complaint is often a smokescreen, or a bullying tactic.  Some clients make a sport of squeezing a small vendor on price because they enjoy exploiting others.  Other times, the client really does have a limited budget and can only afford to pay so much.  If the company is small, you can perhaps assume the latter and if your prospect is with a large organization, it’s probably safe to assume the former.

TACTIC: Ask what the budget is, then ask what the must-haves are re: the product or service that you would provide and then customize according to what you can afford to provide as regards your service or the product features.  Under no circumstances should you lower your price and offer the same level of service or the same product features.  Other options are to throw in value-addeds to sweeten the deal, or to offer an extended payment plan.

Thanks for reading,


Photograph: Street vendor, courtesy of Sofia Cristina Cordova Valladares (Mexico) on Pixabay


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