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B2B Phone Sales Negotiations: Missed Deadline

“I gave my prospect a pricing incentive with a deadline in order to close a deal but the deadline passed and I haven’t gotten the order from them yet… What should I do?”

This is a perfectly timed question as this just happened to me as well. Before I answer it, let’s confirm a few assumptions first:

  • We have “problem recognition” (need) on the prospects part;
  • You are speaking with someone who has authority in the purchasing process;
  • They can afford your solution to their problem;
  • They like and want your solution.

If you don’t have at least these things covered, offering a “pricing incentive” will most likely be futile.
So assuming you had all of these areas covered (as was the case with a deal I recently was working) here’s my recommendation:
First, the typical scenario is you are in negotiations and a better deal needs to be struck in order for both parties to move forward.
So the salesperson offers what they can and puts a date on when the deal must happen by.
Sometimes it’s on the spot and other times it’s more like the last day of the month, as was the case with my deal. We worked out the final agreements on Monday, had a new proposal in their hands by Tuesday, did a “temperature” check on Wednesday and heard nothing from them on Friday, which was the deadline or the incentive was off the table.
Now I did send an email mid-morning on Friday (the deadline date) and when I didn’t hear back by Noon I picked up the phone to call the prospect directly (my contact had a habit of always emailing me or calling me back very promptly, so when I didn’t get a response from my email, I decided to make the call)
I was informed that my contact was out of the office and would be back but only for a short time before leaving early for good in order to take a long weekend.
Now this is where most salespeople panic (I’ve been guilty of this more times than I want to admit) and decide to reach higher and start blowing up everyone’s phone who will listen and just create havoc in order to get the prospect to get the deal done before they leave.
What usually happens when the salesperson behaves this way is they blow a deal they otherwise would have had, albeit maybe passed the deadline.
So instead of going down that road, I opted for this…
I simply asked to be put in my prospect’s voicemail, left a well-strategized voicemail message specific for this situation and went about the rest of my day without given that deal a second thought.
Guess what?!? End of Friday came but the deal never did.
So here we are, back to the original question…
What do you do when a prospect misses your incentive deadline?
Here’s what I did…
First, I was going to email the prospect their new proposal (without the incentive) on Monday, letting them know I was sorry the timing may not have been right for them now but if that changes, here’s the pricing they could expect (again, minus the incentive)
But as I thought about it, I decided to wait a day. Why?
Because up to this point, the courting process between the prospect and I have been pretty solid.
If they missed the deadline it’s only because one of two reasons:

  1. Something came up that delayed this coming over Friday but they still want to move forward and will be sending it over as soon as they can; Or…
  2. We hit a road-block.

So I opted to wait a day (Monday) to see if the “reach” came. Sure enough it did. An apology that they got tied up with last minute interruptions and the agreement was coming over in the next few minutes. Crisis adverted and everyone is happy and I didn’t complicate matters by sending a new proposal or act desperate.

OK but what if you don’t hear from them 24 hours after the deadline?

Well then, in my case, come Tuesday my prospect would have received an updated proposal (minus the incentive) and they would have had to work awfully hard on me to get that incentive back. And there’s a very good chance that they would not have gotten it as I don’t throw “incentives” around lightly.
Too many salespeople offer “pretend” incentives and say things like “this is only good to XYZ date” but then call the prospect a week after that date expired and say; “what if I could still get you that deal?” and it devalues what you offer.
So what I have found that works best for me is this… If they missed a deadline (especially one that I control) I give it 24 hours and wait and see if they reach back out. If they don’t make a reach, I resend the proposal minus the incentive.
I’ve found this method generates more calls backs and restarts the negotiation / objection handling process at a higher rate Vs. calling them directly and trying to open them up on why they missed the deadline.
Hope this helps.
– Michael Pedone
Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.

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