Published by Rachel Williams - October 19, 2018

Knowing when it’s time to break up

How to handle dead deals while leaving room for re-engagement.

Knowing when it’s time to break up

It’s been a week since your last correspondence with a prospect, and they no longer seem interested in your product. You’ve done your best to revive the stalled deal by sending a sequence of emails to regain their attention, to no avail. Rather than having your sales rep waste more of their selling time, it may be best to have them break up with that contact as a final attempt to re-engage them.

How do you know when it’s time to break up?

Measuring the value of each prospect should help dictate when it’s time to wrap up a seemingly dead deal. A sales rep only has 8 hours a day, so is this one worth their effort? If you have ten opportunities a year in your pipeline, you may be willing to tough it out for the long haul with a stubborn deal. If your company focuses on more transactional sales, your reps’ time is too valuable to spend waiting around for a contact with cold feet.

It’s okay to assume that the cards have been played right leading up to this moment: the discovery call was successful, follow-up emails were timely and polite, and your rep even tried proven methods of reviving a stalled deal. It’s apparent that your product is no longer a priority for this prospect, and it’s not just the next meeting they’re avoiding. Sales reps often get a gut sense when they’re being ghosted from the project as a whole. Leave it to them to decide when it’s time to initiate a breakup as a last-ditch effort to re-engage.

The key components of a breakup email

One of the most important parts to not breaking up, ironically, is the perfect breakup email. Initiate the message with a subject line that is direct and to-the-point. Use a question so straightforward that they can’t shy away from answering. Even if you don’t hear back, you’ll have your answer.

Subject line: Are you still interested in using (your company’s product)?

Encourage a response by creating a safe space with disarming language, letting them know that it’s okay if they’ve found a different solution. Sale revival emails with cheesy lines and quirky jokes are common, but you might find more success by remaining professional. It is possible to demand respect while remaining cordial.

Don’t waste time going over the pain points they’ve brought up earlier in the cyclethey’ve already been said. Getting straight to the point will keep weary prospects from becoming defensive, while simultaneously getting you the information you need to determine the value of attempting to re-engage them later.

Hi Sally,

I’ve been trying to get in touch with you to discuss this project, but haven’t heard back recently. I get a sense that your priorities have changed. Is that correct?

I don’t want to hassle you with more emails if you’ve decided to put off the decision or go with another solution. Either way, would you mind letting me know if you are still interested in (your company’s product)? I am available to chat at your earliest convenience: calendly.com/yourschedulinglink

Hope to hear from you soon!

We’ve seen responses to at least 60% of the breakup emails our team sends. Keep in mind, some of those are prospects re-opening the deal, and others are just letting us know they’ve moved on. Either way, the outcome is positive. You don’t want your reps to continue wasting their limited selling time.

If it doesn’t work, then what?

Without a response to a breakup email, you’re left with few options. Sales reps often ask themselves, “Is it worth my time to keep chasing this deal?” Depending on the potential value, you may want to mark it as lost and move on to keep a clean pipeline. Even though you won’t close the deal right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be interested in the future.

If your team leverages automated marketing tools, add the prospect’s information to a re-engagement campaign. These are designed to remind people of the value of your product so they’ll keep you at top of mind if their problems persist or their current solution stops working. With the right campaign, you can slowly nurture them and get back their business when they are interested down the road.

If you don’t have a sophisticated marketing automation platform or team, mark the deal in your system and follow up with them a few months down the road. Flag one of their emails in your inbox, create a calendar event for yourself with their contact information listed in the description or make a note as a reminder to reach out. Check in on the problems they mentioned during your initial discovery call, and follow up with the other contacts you’ve made at their company.

Subject line: Are you interested in (your company’s product)?

Hi Sally,

I am following up on your past interest in (your company’s product). You mentioned that (insert pain point) was impacting you in the following way (expand on pain point). Has anything changed since we last spoke?

I’d love for us to connect again. Here’s my link to schedule: calendly.com/yourschedulinglink

Hope to hear from you soon!

Even the most successful sales teams will run into a cold deal that can’t be helped. It can be difficult to let go of an opportunity, especially when your team has put in the work. Sometimes, you need to be honest with yourself when it’s time to let it go. Remember to value your reps’ selling time, and trust their instincts when they think they’re being ghosted. It’s okay to try and pull out all the stops, but stay professional in your cadence. Leave things respectful and open-ended to give yourself an opportunity to revive the deal when the time is right.

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