How to be a dictator enforcing sales offer deadlines

Everyone who manages a company or its sales force wants to write as many new deals as possible, and is usually warry about doing anything that might threaten the positive outcome of a pending sale.

So, it is common practice to leave an offer containing a discount open, following up

Deadline stamp

Deadlines are an important sales tool.

periodically to attempt to nudge a prospect into signing.  But without a firm, meaningful deadline, many of these bid-in-hand prospects will want to shop around, or delay a “yes” for budgetary reasons, or just ignore the offer for the short run.

If a potential customer’s cash is tight, or if the relationship between the customer and sales rep is not close enough to move the customer to at least respond, then an offer can sit for months or longer with no acceptance.

[Email readers, continue here…] There is a proven way to cause enough discomfort to move a potential customer to act, but is carries a degree of risk.  Place a firm deadline upon any discount, and make it clear that the date is real, after which the discount will no longer be available.  Do so within the offer document and with a personal comment with delivery of the offer.

And plan to enforce this deadline, even at the peril of losing the deal.  Creating a line in the sand and sticking to it will assure that your prospect takes the discount seriously.   If the deadline expires and the potential customer finally acts, expecting the discount, a significant degree of sales power returns to you.  From a simple, “Well, we’ll extend it for a week” to “Our board is firm, and the best I can do now is (something less.)”

The most powerful tool you have in a sales environment is a deadline.  If your prospect continually misses a deadline for no good reason, you have an earlier reason than usual to reduce the percentage of close to near zero in your sales prospect system, and that is a good move in making sales forecasts more realistic, if nothing else.

Yes, it takes a little extra gut to pull the plug on an offer or discount.  Ask yourself: “How many long-open offers are actually accepted?”  You’ll have you answer and a tool to enforce change.

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