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Manage your business 6 October 2021

5 Signs you’re losing a sale & 5 tactics to save it

At the best of times, making a sale or closing a deal requires attention to detail, determination and a willingness to take that extra step to meet the customer’s needs. Currently, with the economic pressures being faced by consumers on almost every level, even these attributes may not be enough to guarantee successful sales for your business.

In this challenging environment, understanding why you could be losing a sale and knowing what steps to take to save it are crucial to ensuring the stability and continued growth of your business.

Here are 5 common signs that a sale may be in jeopardy, according to Entrepreneur South Africa (Porter 2011):

  • The customer seems indifferent
    A lack of questions or concerns about a sale likely indicates a broader disinterest in doing business with you.
  • Lack of deadlines
    A firm deadline is a good indication of a customer’s commitment to the deal. It also allows you to prioritise your sales efforts.
  • You’re dealing with the wrong people
    Although you may start a sales process by engaging with people on a junior level in your potential client’s organisation, if you are unable to progress to the point where you are dealing with someone who has actual decision-making and purchasing power, it’s unlikely you will close the deal.
  • Your price is too high
    This could be related to either the value or scope of what you’re trying to sell. A customer may feel that they can obtain the same product or service for less, or that you are providing more than they need.
  • You’re asked for a proposal first
    If a customer asks for a proposal before they have had a conversation with you, they’re likely just gathering vendor quotes and are not at the point where they’re seriously considering buying from your business.

With these factors in mind, here are 5 tactics you can employ to save a sale or lock down a deal:

Build an advisory relationship with your customer
This goes beyond the typical seller-buyer relationship and develops trust by demonstrating your ability to solve their problems and add value to their business, even in cases where they may not require your services directly.

Set a deadline
There are several ways to create a sense of urgency and make it more likely a customer will commit to a sale, from offering limited-time discounts to highlighting the possible risks of delaying a deal too long.

Know your customers
Try to make contact with decision-makers within an organisation as soon as possible, but be aware of the structure and hierarchy of a customer’s organisation and take care not to undermine your initial contact. Ensure that the material you provide can be easily shared and presented within an organisation, allowing your initial contact to act as an advocate for your business.

Know your offering, but be flexible
To address a customer’s potential concerns around the price, focus on the added value of your product or service. Look to offer solutions that meet a customer’s specific needs, whether scaling your offering or creating payment alternatives and incentives for future sales.

Have a conversation
Before you submit a proposal, have a conversation with the customer to understand exactly what they’re looking for. This will allow you to tailor your proposal to their criteria and improve your chances of making the sale.

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Porter, J. 2011. ‘Five Signs You're Losing a Sale—And How to Save It’. Entrepreneur South Africa. [Online] Available: (Accessed 30 July 2021).