Stalled Sales Opportunities: When Your Prospect is Hiding

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 @ 06:09 AM

stalledThis happens to every single salesperson on the planet engaged in a sales cycle of longer than one call.

"My prospect won't return my calls".

"I can't get my prospect to the phone".

"My prospect is ignoring me".

Those of us who train, coach or mentor salespeople probably hear one of those three even more often than "I'm having trouble scheduling appointments." What should you do when it happens to you or your salespeople?


You may be surprised to learn that while it doesn't happen very often, Sales Development Experts occassionally experience scenarios like these too. As a matter of fact, in August I identified 9 stalled opportunities where calls were not being returned.  I decided to track the activities from that point forward so that I could report the results here and show you, based on data, the actual steps and outcomes.

Opportunity Required
Email and/or 
Voice Mail
Result of
A 6 Received Email scheduled mtg to close
B 8 Received Email went with someone else
C 6 Received Call will close late 2011
D 4 Received Call scheduled mtg to close
E 5 Received Email will close this week
F 4 Received Email will close late 2011
G Received Email  scheduled mtg to close 
Received Call  will close this week 
I 4 Received Call  will close early October 


  • 9 Stalled Opportunities
  • 5 Attempts on average Required for Response
  • 100% Finally Responded
  • 1 Opportunity Lost
  • 2 Closes Delayed
  • 2 to Close This Week
  • 3 Additional Closes scheduled for this month
  • 1 to Close next month 


How a salesperson responds to a stalled prospect who has gone into hiding depends on the type of salesperson they are:

  • If they become angry, impatient, or surly, they may blow-up their prospect - punish them - for their unacceptable behavior.  Salesperson loses.
  • If they become pests - continually calling to ask if a decision has been made - wasting prospects' time - they make their prospects angry.  Salesperson loses.
  • If they sit back and wait - believing the prospect will call when they're ready - the prospect will forget about them. Salesperson loses.
  • If they assume that they lost the business then they have.  Salesperson loses.
  • If they consistently leave nice messages, without pressure, the prospect will return the call in fewer than 8 attempts. The results here show that salespeople could close up to 90% of that stalled business.
The data that Objective Management Group has collected from 1831617 salespeople that have been assessed shows that more than 80% of them follow up in one of the four inappropriate ways listed above.
Don't allow your salespeople to make the mistakes that so many salespeople make by following up inappropriately.  Just have them be consistent!
The EcSell Institute's Sales Coaching Summit is taking place on October 4 in Atlanta.  If you manage a sales team, and enjoy tips and advice like I present on a daily basis, then this two-day event is a good one for you to attend.  Click here for more information.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales tips, stalled sales cycle

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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