Warning Signs a Sale is About to Turn Sour on You

When to walk away from a bad deal

Knowing when to walk away from a deal is a powerful thing.

Determining the perfect moment is easy in hindsight, but as it’s all going down, actually making the call to “walk away” is a tough one.

How do you really know you’re doing the right thing?

I like to think I’ve seen it all when it comes to the tap-dancing clients like to do, and there’s a few things you should be looking out for when a deal is going sour.

If you start seeing these warning signs, your time may be better spent elsewhere.


The client keeps throwing up objections

Objections are normal part of the sales process, but there’s a point when it’s too much.

Yes, the challenge of breaking down these walls is what sales is all about, but you also need a healthy dose of reality.

Ask yourself, why are they so against your solution?

Is it your product, or is there something deeper at play that is going to stop this deal in its tracks? Perhaps they aren’t buying in to the value of your offer, or there’s simply an obstacle that’s completely out of your control.

Don’t keep pushing if the client just isn’t all that into you.


The client is completely fixated on price

Listen to the way the client is steering the conversation.

If everything is circling back to the “price” it’s a rather healthy indicator that they value your solution, well, not very much at all.

For me, that’s the wrong kind of prospect, and it’s better to walk away.

Because there’s two outcomes.

Either you take a massive slash in your rates to meet the client’s budget (I don’t recommend this unless there is something MONSTER in it for you), or you force the client to pay up.

Ultimately, one of you is going to be seriously unhappy.


The client isn’t sure what they want

I’ve been burned with these types of clients in the past, and it’s a costly error.

They “uhm” and “ahh” throughout the process, and once they’ve paid your deposit they let nerves get the better of them and they start micromanaging everything.

If you’re not 100% sure on what they want, walk away from the deal.

Otherwise you’ll be fielding an endless stream of change requests, and as someone who genuinely had 15 emails regarding the pixel perfect placements of a elements on a page.

They didn’t trust my expertise, and I spent far too much of my time trying to make them happy. It wasn’t a good experience for either party.


The client is always asking for more

On that same line of thought, you need to be careful of those who push the goal posts.

If you’re fielding longer and longer emails, on the most unnecessary elements of the job before you’ve even been hired to get started, that’s a major red flag.

And it sets a scary scene for the project to come.

Stick to your guns when you are selling your solution, make it clear in your contracts the scope that is covered, the rules and boundaries in place, and hold your clients to them.

There will always be the bad apple that seeks to squeeze every bit of blood out of you that they can, and if you’ve got a prospect giving off this kind of vibe, head the other way.


The client doesn’t really need your product

As you sit through more and more sales calls, it’s inevitable you’ll uncover clients who simply don’t need your products.

Perhaps your solution isn’t quite the right fit at that moment, or their particular challenge isn’t one that you’re in the best possible position to solve.

My advice?

Be honest with them.

Explain why your product may not be a good fit, and go into the details why.

Who knows, the situation may change in the months to come, and they’ll appreciate you were acting with their best interests in mind.


The client has started ghosting you

They’ve gone dark, seemingly out of nowhere.

Your messages aren’t being returned, your emails go unread and they’re completely dark.

Of course, it could be a genuine misunderstanding and they’re busy firefighting some unknown situation that’s caught them completely off-guard, in their business or their life.

Or not, and they’re no longer interested.

In this case, I recommend sending a break-up email to wind it up.

Thank them for their interest, let them know you will no longer be following up on this and plan to close their file, and wish them all the best for their business.

The “Magic Email” also works, just send this:

Since I have not heard from you on this, I have to assume your priorities have changed.

Then forget about the prospect.

They’ll either wake up and respond, or not.

But at least it’s out of your head now.


The client is giving you a funny feeling

Over my career I’ve learnt my gut is often the best indicator over anything else.

When I look back, on the things that have gone wrong in past deals, I’ve made the biggest mistakes when I tried to make it happen anyway.

I had a funny feeling that something wasn’t right, but I persevered instead of listening to my own, internal temperature gauge of the situation.

Don’t discount the power of your intuition.

It may let you down every now and then, but I’m willing to bet, that the vast majority of the time your instincts are dead on. Walk away if you’re not feeling good about the sale.

Listen to your gut.


The client seems “too good to be true”

I’ve had deals fall into my lap and I’m shocked at how easy it was, but there have been far more cases when they’re saying all the right things, then they disappear.

Ghosting me, for no apparent reason.

And the worst part?

They were telling me the were sold.

If a prospect seems too good to be true, there’s a reason.

They’re just not all that into you. They’re just playing along because they’re not confident to say no, they’ve got nothing better to do, or any of a hundred other things.

When someone is too eager, without any negotiation or challenges don’t get your hopes up.

They only become a customer once they sign that contract, or click that buy button.

Don’t get excited before the deal is done.


These days it’s no longer good advice to try to win at all costs.

There’re far too many moving parts, and if you start to get a feeling a sale is going bad, pay attention. Instead of fighting a losing battle, putting your heart, soul and time into rekindling a prospect who is already dead in the water, just walk away.

Trust me, the feeling of elation you get once you close it off shows how right you were.

There are plenty of fish in the sea, and so many more prospects, don’t get caught up on the one right in front of your face. Be willing to walk away when a sale goes sour.

You’ll thank me for it.

Keep up the great work,

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