Zombie Sales Deals: Dead & Still on Your Forecast

Zombies are terrifying because they can’t die, they don’t know they’re a problem, and they can take you down with them. A zombie sales deal might not be quite as scary, but having too many of them on your forecast and on your mind can hurt both you and your company.

What do I mean by a zombie sales deal?

A deal that you haven’t closed, but can’t wipe off your schedule or forecast either. A deal that’s somewhere in between “living” and “dead.”

The root cause of most zombies is not nuclear waste (as the movies would have you believe). Instead, it’s the ubiquitous phrase, “I need some time to think this over. Call me in a week or so.”

Where does this dreaded phrase come from? Again, it’s not nuclear waste. This phrase comes from:

  • Salespeople who don’t know how to ask for decisions without being pushy.
  • Salespeople who don’t want to hear the word, “No.”
  • Salespeople who make premature presentations.

In other words, if you have a zombie sales problem, you may be the cause.

Just like in the movies, there are rules for avoiding zombie deals:

Rule 1: Don’t try and convince anyone of anything, or you will push them away.

It sounds like a paradox, but the more you try and convince someone of something, the more likely it is that you are pushing that person away. Before you go into a sales call remind yourself that your time is incredibly valuable. The buyer must convince you that there’s a reason for you to stay involved in the sales process.

Rule 2: The context controls the outcome.

In our High-Tech Selling System we refer to a Mutual Agenda. In the first two minutes of your conversation with a potential customer you need to ensure that the buyer doesn’t feel like you want him to string you along. The buyer must be comfortable saying “no,” to you.

Rule 3: Your Mutual Action Plan (MAP) must be MUTUAL

Before you leave a conversation, co-build a Mutual Action Plan so there is no question of who is going to do what when.

Look, sometimes you’re a hero with a plan, but you follow the plan, and you still don’t prevent zombies from taking over your city.  If this happens to you, it’s time for a Zombie email (please note, this is not recommended in the case of real, flesh-eating zombies, only sales zombies).

Here’s a zombie email example

Subject: The fine line between persistence and stalking….


A while back, we talked about our (services/products) and it sounded like we might have a fit. It’s been quite some time since we spoke and I’ve had trouble reaching you by phone.

My guess is that we’re out of touch for one of four reasons:

  1. I was the only one who thought it was a fit.
  2. I have crossed that fine line between persistence and stalking.
  3. You found another solution and you don’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me it’s over.
  4. You are desperately trying to reach me but you are trapped under a heavy object and cannot reach your cell phone.

I’d consider it a personal favor if you’d let me know if the problem is one of these, or something I didn’t think of.

Humbly at your service,

Steve Kraner

P.S. If it’s #4, reply and I’ll send help!

If the email gets you re-engaged, great. If not, you know that the zombie is truly dead and you can quit pouring time and energy into a lost cause. We often chase zombies because chasing can feel better than prospecting, but generally speaking, prospecting is a better use of your time.