How to Bring a Dead Sale Back to Life


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The first step? Acceptance.

You get a call from a dream prospect who says they want to meet with you to discuss their budget and purchase plans for the third quarter of 2021. Yippee! If you could only land this account, 2021 will be looking like your best year ever.

You are determined to do everything in your power to make it happen. To prepare for the meeting, you spend several hours researching the client’s website, putting marketing materials together, collecting customer testimonials, and organizing your pricing information. You drive two hours to the meeting, build great rapport with decision-makers, ask relevant questions, energetically convey your solution, skillfully overcome their objections and deliver what you consider to be a competitive pricing structure. In short, you nailed it! They tell you they will review your materials and seem very appreciative of your effort. You walk out of the office, confident that you gave it your best and that the effort will be rewarded.

You then spend the next three weeks making follow-up calls trying to get your new decision-maker “bestie” back on the phone to place the first order. For some reason, they must be super busy and just don’t have time to jump on a call right now. You then skillfully craft a series of emails trying to make it easy for them to just place that first order. Nothing! Finally, you place one last call, are thrown directly to voicemail, and leave a message that sounds like the one you made to that old girlfriend/boyfriend back in high school that you tragically regretted leaving.

Two days later, you are rewarded with a bling in your Outlook inbox from the one you have been longing for. With anticipation, you click on it … only to learn they decided to stick with their current supplier. In the next three minutes, your body and mind go through four of the five stages of the Dying Sale: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression.

Denial: It couldn’t have happened!

Anger: What a bunch of jerks!

Bargaining: Maybe I should cut my price even more?

Depression: Oh my goodness, how could this have happened!

So what do you do from here? Should you tell the prospect they’re making a huge mistake and that in the long run, it will cost them? Or perhaps you should throw out the great rejection cliché, “Are you sure you were comparing apples to apples?” Or why not hit them right between the eyes and ask them what I know you’re thinking, “Sally, did you just play me so you can get a better cost out of your current supplier?”

Your next steps

As much as your heart and mouth are dying to tell the prospect they made a tragic mistake that they will regret for the rest of their lives, you must get to the acceptance stage as quickly as possible. And from there, your next steps should be the following:

  • Sincerely (yes, sincerely) thank them for the opportunity
  • Ask them a question that helps you learn from the experience. “Sally, I was wondering if you could help me. Was there something better I could have done to earn your business?” Remember, more lessons are learned from failure than success, so don’t miss the opportunity.
  • Drop a Thank You note in the mail.
  • Tell them that you will always be available and will continue to work hard to earn the opportunity to serve them.

Then create a plan to keep your name in front of them over the next 12 months. One good way to do this is by creating a monthly newsletter sharing with them anecdotes of how your service helped your clients become happier and more productive. You could also provide valuable information about new products that your competition is neglecting to tell them about. Add industry trends and news that they would find value in. And personalize it with a picture of you being you. Maybe it’s a picture of you showing a prospect a new technology. Or maybe it’s just you hanging out with your kids on your recent summer break vacation. Just make sure that the newsletter hits their logic and emotion. In other words, it should make them smarter while at the same time create a personal connection with you. Does creating a newsletter/email like this take time? Sure, but the potential sales you may get as a result will far outweigh the time invested.

And here’s the good news. The day will come when your competition slips up. And when they do, that prospect will think of you first because of how you handled the first rejection and how you continued to find ways to serve them. And once you get the account, you will then be able to accept the fact that the first rejection was nothing more than the first essential step in the creation of one of your best long-term customers.

As president of PRECISE Selling, Brian Sullivan helps improve sales, customer service, negotiations, leadership, and presentation skills through seminars and Internet training programs. For more on his speaking, consulting, or books, visit or email: [email protected]


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