We all know what to say when we win deals, right? But professional salespeople also need to know what to say when a deal goes bust. As salespeople, we’ve all been there. You’ve spent weeks or even months courting a prospect. You’ve sent them materials, completed demos -- heck, you’ve probably even priced out a six-month trial program for them. Your follow-up, perhaps using a tool like Spiro, has been stellar. But at the last minute, they decide they aren’t ready for the solution, don’t have the budget, or simply want to go with a different vendor.
That doesn’t mean your reputation as a salesperson has to go down in flames as well. Here are my tried-and-true phrases for ending an unsuccessful deal with your dignity (and your chances for a future deal) intact.
3 Phrases That Keep Lost Deals Alive
1) “You picked a great company to work with.”
Even the most resilient salespeople can take a lost deal personally. I can remember one particularly heartbreaking loss -- my team and I were pitching a huge deal at a Fortune 500 company that seemed to be going really well. We had great alignment on product fit and were in agreement on the budget.
What we didn’t know was that at the same time, one of our biggest competitors was working on a similar deal with a different division at this company. Once the timing was right for the prospect to move forward, they combined the two initiatives and we were pushed out by the long-standing relationship the prospect had with our competitor. Sometimes it’s true -- it’s not what you know, but who you know.
Could we have told this company to buzz off for not being forthcoming about another deal they were working on? Sure, but that would have gotten us nowhere. Instead, by saying, “You picked a great solution,”and “We understand your reasoning for moving forward with Company X,” we were able move on with our heads held high.
2) “Let us know how we can make your transition process easier.”
I know what you’re thinking. “If I’ve just lost a deal, why am I offering to help this company move forward with another solution provider?” And you’re right -- it’s counterintuitive. But think about all the work you’ve done ahead of getting the disappointing “no” that could now be perceived as a waste of time.
It rarely benefits anyone to allow a prospect to go into a deal unprepared. Taking the time to educate them on key challenges they might face during the process with any supplier -- including yours -- positions you as a valuable resource for the future. In the lost deal with the Fortune 500 company, we didn’t want them going into the deal blind, even if they weren’t working with us.
When offering yourself up as a resource, consider phrases like, “Implementations of this nature can be tricky, so let us know if we can help,” or “We have a great case study that outlines a similar project, let me send it to you.” Positioning yourself as a knowledgeable expert is always good for business – and gives you a leg up if your former prospect decides to pass your information along to someone else looking for the same solution.
3) “Let’s be sure to stay in touch.”
Most salespeople are great networkers, so this phrase is in our vocabulary by default. But how often do you say this and never actually stay in touch? We’re all guilty of it. But when it comes to prospects who have turned you down, it’s important to actually follow through.
Saying things like, “I’ll be sure to keep you in mind for future promotions our company is running,” or “I’ll let you know when we update our product,” sets you up for future contact. And this is particularly important if your prospect said “no” to the deal because your product or pricing didn’t quite line up with their specific needs.
With our Fortune 500 prospect, we continued to include them in our prospecting and marketing efforts to remind them that we were an alternative. Bottom line: We didn’t let them go, nor did we let them forget our existence and previous hard work on their behalf.
Tracking Your Results
While the results of your efforts may not always be immediate, conducting yourself with integrity and professionalism in the face of a lost deal will always yield a positive outcome -- whether it boosts the reputation of you and your company, or presents the opportunity to pitch a new deal in the future.
Remember that Fortune 500 company we’ve been talking about? By following the advice and using the phrases I’ve outlined, we ended up receiving three referrals from them that turned into profitable opportunities. This company had thought highly enough about our efforts that they continued to advocate for us to other companies.
The cherry on top? Ultimately, we ended up pitching them again and won the deal.
Does it hurt when a deal falls through? Of course. But with persistence, sound advice, a solid solution and plenty of integrity, even failed deals can come full circle to success.