An Elephant Statue Sits on a Fence Post

Legendary sales expert Tom Hopkins has trained over five million sales pros since 1974. So we thought Tom would be the perfect person to ask about one of the most frustrating selling scenarios: the stalled sale.

The stalled sale is that elephant in your pipeline. It’s there, but you don’t want to talk about it… don’t want to even think about it… You’ve seemingly checked every box that needs to be checked and you just want to change the status of your hard-fought opportunity to “closed/won” already!

The more complex the sale, the higher the stakes, the more it lingers in the back of your mind. Let’s get that stalled sale out of your mind and moving, shall we?

Introhive: Tom, we’re hoping you can help our readers with one of the most frustrating aspects of selling. What is your best advice for dealing with a stalled high-stakes deal?

Tom Hopkins: Stalls are usually defense mechanisms. Buyers who stall very often fear they’re being taken advantage of. Some, of course, feel every negotiation is a win-lose proposition.

Introhive: Ha! Anyone who has spent time in sales or business development can certainly empathize with prospects who feel everything is a win-lose proposition. When you feel confident that a deal should close – or at least move forward to the next stage – what’s the next step?

Tom Hopkins: If you’ve clearly presented the value of your solution and know it’s the best solution for the needs of the buyer, you may need to ask what I call an “ultimate question” in order to get the sale moving forward.

Introhive: Interesting, so what’s a good example of an “ultimate question”?

Tom Hopkins: An example of an ultimate question is this: “Mike, at this point, I think you’ll agree we’ve discussed the details of your needs in great depth. I believe the solution I’ve presented is truly in the best interest of your company. What else can I do today to help you start enjoying the benefits you’ve indicated you want?”

Introhive: That’s awesome. Okay, so you’ve asked your ultimate question. Now what?

Tom Hopkins: After asking that question, remain quiet. Let your buyer choose the next move. Hopefully, the buyer doesn’t go back into asking to negotiate further. Note that if a buyer is simply too demanding during the sales process, they might make your life miserable as a client.

Introhive: Great point, and definitely worth consideration, especially if it inhibits your organization’s ability to serve other high-value clients. Thanks for the excellent advice, Tom!