How not to close a deal

You’ve made your pitch, and your prospect is impressed. So, closing the deal now is just a formality – or is it? Here are six mistakes to avoid if you want to get your client to sign on the dotted line.

1. Only focusing on the deal

“Always be closing” used to be the ultimate sales mantra. But in today’s world, it doesn’t impress clients – quite the opposite. The focus has shifted to supporting them in a way that adds value to them. This means really understanding their business and showing that what you offer is perfectly placed to help them achieve their goals. Make sure you can deliver on this – it will form the foundation of how to proceed from pitch to contract.

2. Talking to the wrong person

Many good deals never make it past the boardroom door, despite salespeople’s hard work. It’s because the true decision-maker has been kept out of the loop. It’s important to have one person as your contact throughout the process – it builds trust and mutual understanding, preparing the way for other deals in future. But don’t be afraid to ask who will ultimately have the final say, especially when it comes to spending money, and then involving him or her.


3. Ignoring the sales window

Timing is all important when working on and eventually closing a deal. Nothing can be more frustrating than putting in the time to discover that your client is “just looking around” with no real deadline in sight. So find out where they are in the buying process. Are they at the information-gathering or consideration stage? How long will the current stage last? When will they be ready to make a decision? Can you support them in any way?

4. Playing your B-game

The sales process can take days, weeks, sometimes even months, involving various meetings, phone calls and emails. Don’t drop the ball; be on your A-game all the time. Reply to requests promptly, at a reasonable time of day, and provide useful, applicable answers. As you build a relationship with your client, you can also share inspirational and instructional information – from a new relevant study to how you’ve helped a similar client achieve results. This is how you establish trust, reliability and confidence – key ingredients for clinching the sale.

5. Being too eager to compromise

Making the sale is important, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t defend your initial offer. Think strategically before saying “yes” to your clients’ procurement requests too quickly. Procurement teams have in-depth knowledge of their businesses and what your competitors are offering, as well as what it may cost. Take the time to really get the full picture of all their requirements before offering more favourable conditions and adjusting your offer.

6. Appearing too rigid and rushed

Closing a deal requires striking a fine balance between how your prospect wants the process to develop and using your sales knowledge and experience to guide the process and negotiations. Highlight the advantages, confirm what you agree about, but have a flexible approach. By tailoring your sales process to the client and not projecting your own targets and deadlines onto them, you make it easier for them to act upon their trust in you and your product.

As sales professionals, we’ve all made mistakes, including the Krauthammer sales consultants who have given the input for this article. The secret to success lies in constantly reflecting on what works and what doesn’t. Applying some considered strategies and out-of-the-box thinking is what will ultimately get your prospects to sign on the dotted line.

More tips:

  • In large multinational companies, conditions of payment are usually quite rigid. Instead of trying to negotiate these, it may be better to accept their "60 days plus" term, but agreeing that you can send your invoice earlier.
    Thijs Westerkamp, Krauthammer Amsterdam

  • Check the final contract – does it include any points that haven’t been covered with the client? Discuss these before sealing the deal.
    Manuela Kienitz
    Krauthammer Germany

  • Don’t tell everybody at your company that the sale is nearly closed – wait until you’ve actually got the signature.
    Thierry Stéphan, Krauthammer Paris

  •  When negotiating, never be over-argumentative. Silent pauses can be powerful and highly effective negotiation tools.
    Pascale Bauer, Krauthammer Switzerland