The 5 Reasons Why You’re Not Closing Deals

Mar 4, 2021
Author: collin stewart

Replayz changed the sales training game for Inside Sales. Over the past year, the Replayz team has watched thousands of discovery, demo, and closing calls, and correlated what the best sales reps are doing that the average rep is missing.

Dave Kennett, CEO, joined us on a recent episode of the Predictable Revenue Podcast to chat about what often goes wrong at each opportunity stage, and how to replicate the behaviours of top performers instead.


There’s no worse look, in Dave’s opinion, than an AE who hops on a discovery call with a prospect and asks the question, “so, where are you based?” It’s lazy and impersonal. It shows that the rep didn’t even take the time to look at their prospect’s Linkedin profile.

Instead, do your research. Look for press, look at the company website, check google alerts set for this account, see who you’re connected to already at the account, look in your CRM for any past engagement, and chat to the SDR who booked the meeting to get all the details. 

Use all of this information to formulate a hypothesis of need. This isn’t an assumption because, as Collin’s grandfather always used to say, “when you assume you make an ass out of u and me.” It’s an educated guess that acts as a springboard for the conversation.



Dave sees a lot of reps out there getting rapport wrong. Some feel uncomfortable asking what they think are personal questions or referring to personal things. Others believe that they are not “relational sellers,” and therefore don’t have to create relationships to sell.

Both of these opinions ignore a simple fact: we’re all human. Connection is important, and it’s our job as salespeople to gauge the way the prospect wants to be connected with as early in the call as possible.


If you were in a boardroom meeting with a group of decision-makers face to face, you wouldn’t hesitate to make a round of introductions before you dove into the meeting. Why, then, do so many reps forget to do the same thing virtually? Give yourself and your team the opportunity to build a connection with each person on the call.


The agenda is the roadmap for a call. It seems like a no-brainer, but Dave sees even seasoned reps missing this vital step. The most valuable asset we have as human beings is time. It’s only fair that, as reps asking that valuable time of our prospect, we propose how we spend it, get our prospect’s input, and make the most of it. Follow these 3 steps: propose roadmap, state the value, check for acceptance. 


Ask each person what they’re hoping to get out of the call. Sometimes this can derail your agenda, however, as prospects get eager and ask questions they expect to be answered on the spot. But hold firm, and don’t dive into answering them until the agenda has been set. You can try opening with a brief agenda, then go around and do intros and what people are hoping to get out of the meeting. Or, you can try going for intros, then agenda, then takeaways.


Share with the prospect what you learned from the SDR who booked this meeting. Show them that you’re not going to waste their time by asking them the same questions twice. Outline what you understand to be their circumstances and then ask, “Is that a fair assessment?”

One of two things will happen. The prospect will either begin to elaborate, unprompted, or they will simply confirm that your assessment is correct. If the case is the latter, Dave maintains that this is a great place in the call to ask what the prospect knows about your org. You want to learn if they have a frame of reference or some prior context on your business that you can use to your advantage. 

If they don’t know much about your company, spend just 30 seconds to a minute running through whatever you think will help them gain confidence in your organization/solution.

Always start with the pain you solve then touch on things like social proof, how you stack up against competitors, your growth figures, employee count, geographic dispersion, you name it. Then dive into some key customer stories. You want the prospect to act as a champion for you and to stick their neck out for you. Make it easier for them to trust you.


Most reps aren’t asking enough discovery questions, and when they are, they’re not digging deep enough. Reps are afraid of interrogating the prospect, they’re afraid of wasting time when the prospect wants to get right to a demo, and they don’t know how to keep it conversational.

When selling software, the main goal of a discovery call is to generate interest for the next call – the demo. Here’s the framework. First, ask the right questions to discover if there’s a need. Mention 3 buckets of pain that you solve for your clients and ask if any of them resonate with the prospect.

When they have identified an area that speaks to them, dig deeper. Uncover that need for them and the negative impact it has. Finally, educate them on what their new situation would look like with a great solution. Keep it conversational, and make sure both your cameras are turned on so you can read the nuance of nonverbal cues. If you hook the prospect with this framework, they’ll be itching for the demo.


Every rep has dealt with a prospect who just wants to talk about price. They cut off your intro short or come in with a non-sequitur answer to your first open-ended question asking for the commercials. Dave has a couple of ways of dealing with this – namely, 2 levels of resistance. 

Level 1: Let the prospect know that until you understand a bit more about their business you won’t be able to make an accurate recommendation on solution, and therefore don’t have pricing yet. 

If that doesn’t work, move to…

Level 2: Give the prospect an average price range and explain that you can’t provide accuracy until you learn more about their business.

If that doesn’t work, just before you give up the pricing…

Ask where pricing ranks in relation to their other priorities. This will give you a clear picture of where the prospect stands and why they’re on this call.


Don’t think of a demo as a presentation, think of it as a discussion with an accompanying screen share. Don’t get on your soapbox and talk, talk, talk. Check-in with your prospect in a meaningful way every 1-2 minutes. Ask open-ended questions that encourage them to be engaged in the conversation and think critically about what you’re sharing and how they feel about it.


Some of the biggest mistakes Dave sees at the end of both discovery calls and demos are: not leaving enough time at the end of a call, and not getting the next meeting on the calendar. Work a time allotment check into your agenda at the beginning of the call to confirm how much time you have with the prospect, and make a point of wrapping up the call 5 minutes early to chat about next steps.

Make sure there is a mutually agreed-upon action plan that you can email the prospect about after the call and confirm again. Finally, schedule the next step. Have the prospect pull up their calendar on the line, outline the importance of why that meeting should take place, and get it booked.


Customer stories can be used at any point during the sales cycle. They help to build credibility at the beginning of a discovery call when you’re trying to learn about your prospect’s company, at the end when discussing pricing, or throughout a demo.

But most reps either spend too much time on customer stories, or no time at all. Replayz learned that the best reps use 3-5 customer stories throughout a 45-minute call, and each of these customer stories is under a minute long. They work best just after the prospect has acknowledged or introduced a pain point. Here’s the formula:

What: “We do {solution to that particular pain point}.”

So What: Business impact – why the prospect should care

Story: Social proof, recognizable brand’s pain solved, ROI


Every AE and sales leader knows that each of the stages of an opportunity have to be worked optimally to give the rep the best shot at closing the deal. But it’s often difficult to pinpoint why some reps are top performers and others aren’t quite up to snuff.

So, Dave Kennett and Replayz have taken it upon themselves to listen to thousands of discovery, demo, and closing calls made by reps all around the world to identify what the top performers are doing differently. With processes like these in place, soon all your reps will be catching up to your top performers.


More on discovery:

Manage a large sales team virtually and build a kick-ass discovery process

Deal Mechanics: How to Work (And Close) 3x The Deals

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