8 Signs a Sales Deal is Bad from the Start


8 Signs a Sales Deal is Bad from the Start


Can one bad apple really spoil the whole bunch? If we apply the concept to sales deals, it absolutely can.

Sales reps who spend all their time and energy focusing on a bad lead will end up without any sales deals at all. The bad deal will never close, and the deals that would have closed with a bit of nurturing will move on to other companies that put more effort into the sales process. Not a good outcome.

The obvious right answer is to focus on leads most likely to close, but it can be difficult for sales reps to discern between great opportunities and terrible time sinks, especially early on in the sales process.

Yes, it’s difficult…but not impossible. It all comes down to fit—comparing the business’ needs and defining characteristics (industry, size, etc.) with your solution. One or two areas where the fit isn’t quite right doesn’t necessarily mean that you should discount the deal altogether, but you should focus on the opportunities that are clear winners for both you and the buyer.

Keep the fit in mind and get your sales reps to take to heart these eight indicators that a sales deal is bad right from the start, and you’ll be on your way to more efficient sales processes and shorter sales cycles:


They have no definitive timeline

Finding out your buyer’s end goal, especially the time frame in which they’re hoping to achieve that goal, is something that should happen very early in the sales cycle. Why? Because it can let you know immediately whether or not the deal is a good fit. Both sides of the spectrum—either ridiculously ambitious timelines or “we haven’t set a date yet” timelines—are indicators that the deal should not be your biggest priority.

They’re expecting too much

Perhaps you have a team of marketers at your company who can “sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves,” as Tommy Boy puts it. When buyers come into the sales cycle with overinflated expectations about how your solution is going to solve all their problems and deliver their budget on a silver platter, they’re going to become disillusioned over the course of the buying process. You run the risk of your buyers dropping out as soon as their understanding of your product becomes clearer.

They ask for pricing right away

“Hello, I’m looking for pricing for your product. Can you provide me with a pricing sheet?” It’s not a deal breaker, but asking for pricing right away should be a red flag.

Experienced buyers know that the sales process is just that: a process. If your buyer truly has a need that they’re hoping your solution will meet, that pain point is going to be the priority, not pricing. Focus on the deals with buyers who have a clear need that your product or services meet.

Their business is too small

Sorry, small businesses, but sales reps usually have bigger fish to fry.

If you have 30 minutes to spend on a sales call, are you going to prioritize the business with 20 employees or the one with 20 global locations? If your company typically sells to large businesses, a quick Google search can usually tell you whether to let the deal sink to the bottom of the pile or focus your main selling effort on it.

They have no influence in the organization

This sign can be very misleading, because executives often send low-level employees out to do grunt research on solutions and report back with the best options. This is why it’s vital for you to quickly find out where your contact fits into the overall corporate structure. Are they an intern for the CMO or an intern for a marketing specialist? The shorter the trip up the corporate ladder to the C-level, the quicker the sales deal will progress.

They’re focusing on your add-ons or side features

Buyers are going to choose the solution that best meets their needs. If your product has high value for one purpose and can “sorta-kinda” be used for another purpose, don’t focus your selling opportunities on the “sorta-kinda” deals. There’s another company out there that achieves the results the buyer is looking for, and your best bet is to point the buyer in that direction and then focus on the high-value opportunities instead.

They’re in a rush

“Can we schedule a demo for tomorrow morning? We need to make a decision ASAP!” If your prospect is more interested in moving the deal forward quickly than you are, there’s a fair chance it’s too good to be true. Often, someone needing to make an immediate decision on a purchase is already very far into their buying journey, giving you little time or opportunity to present your solution effectively. This could be a sign that the buyer has actually already chosen a vendor but is required to bring several options to the table before they can get executive approval. Don’t waste sleep on that deal.

They’re rude or disrespectful

If your prospect is highly demanding, negative or even mean, they’re not worth the frustration of keeping them in the sales cycle. Even if they do choose to purchase your solution, you’re then faced with the tax on supporting departments such as customer services or tech support, who now have to deal with the rude customers on a regular basis. You’ll be better served by focusing on opportunities that are happy with your solution and are willing to work with you toward a positive end result for everyone.


Training your sales reps to identify bad deals can save your company a huge amount of time and money. Looking for more tips and tricks to improve sales execution? This Sirius Decisions research brief will show you how to dynamically guide your sales reps through the sales process.

By Accent Technologies

20th October 2015