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How to Get Buyers and Opportunities Out of the ‘Dead Zone’

4 min
salesperson examining opportunities

Identifying a sales opportunity for your business is an exciting time. You’ve discovered a potential customer, added money to your pipeline, and are one step closer to winning new business.

But not every opportunity is created the same:

  • Some will come together perfectly and speed towards a win
  • Others will continue at an average pace and maybe result in a win or a loss
  • And others will simply never move forward

This means a lot of time and resources are often spent on opportunities that ultimately don’t become revenue. One of the reasons an opportunity might never coalesce into a deal is because it gets stuck in the early stages of your pipeline.

This troublesome place in the pipeline is what Lars Nilsson, a career-long advocate for Sales Development Representatives — and VP of Global Sales Development at Snowflake — calls “the dead zone.”

What is the Dead Zone?

This concept is called the “dead zone” because the longer an account wallows in the early stages without moving forward, the more likely the deal will fall apart. As Account Executives navigate setbacks and radio silence from sellers, SDRs and marketers wonder about the fate of those deals.

They usually plead to reps to “give us the opportunity to re-market that,'” Nilsson recently explained in an exclusive interview that 6sense will soon publish. “Or they want to move the deal up because they’re actively in a campaign and trying to continue to qualify and sell.”

Nilsson continued: “But keeping it this dead zone isn’t really helping anyone. I’ve seen [revenue teams] create new sales statuses and stages for that, but they’re just kicking the can down the road.”

Moving stuck opportunities forward requires a concentrated effort from marketing and sales. You’ll need a sound strategy to re-engage the account and encourage them toward the next steps.

Let’s take a closer look at why an opportunity might become stuck in the dead zone and how you can keep pushing deals forward.

How Do Opportunities Get Stuck in the Dead Zone?

Every company has their own recipe for identifying and creating opportunities.

Some examples include:

  • Hitting a threshold of activity
  • Sellers qualifying an account based on conversations with prospects
  • A platform like 6sense identifying accounts that are performing research that indicates they’re in-market and qualify as an opportunity

No matter how an account becomes an opportunity, the reality is that some of these buyers will become stuck in a pipeline stage.

An opportunity might become stuck because:

  • The messaging or offers they’re receiving don’t align with their needs
  • Sales and marketing don’t have enough information about an account to create personalized experiences to move them forward
  • You haven’t empowered your buyer by giving them the information or content they need to move forward

How Do You Move Opportunities Out of the Dead Zone?

By pinpointing when and where accounts are getting stuck in your pipeline, you can identify gaps in which your marketing and sales processes deviate from the account’s desired buying journey.

Moving dead-zone accounts back into your active opportunity pool requires:

  • A deeper understanding of buyer behavior
  • The ability to deliver personalized experiences at every stage of the journey
  • A system that keeps sales well-informed of engagement

Capture Data That Illuminates Customer Needs

Many accounts get stuck because marketing and sales have missed the mark on messaging. While understanding buyer personas is great, effective revenue processes tailor the buying journey to the needs of each account.

To do that, you need to know:

  • The topics they care about
  • The products/services they’re most interested in
  • The competitors they’re researching

Uncovering these insights requires what we call lighting up the Dark Funnel™, because much of these activities are done anonymously. Gaining access to this information reveals much more about your buyers.

This includes:

  • The pages and topics they’re engaging with on your website
  • The topics they’re researching on the wider internet, including those that relate to your competition
  • Whether they’re comparing your products and services on industry review websites like G2

With this information, your team can quickly drill into an account or contact to learn more about their unique needs.

Diagnosing why an opportunity is stuck in the dead zone is a lot easier when you can quickly and confidently determine the buyer’s interest and research journey. Ask questions like:

  • Is your customer experience missing the mark for people researching certain keywords?
  • Are you failing to differentiate yourself from a key competitor?
  • Are you speaking to sales leaders but using the language of revenue operations, failing to highlight the right value propositions?

Leverage Automation and AI for Personalized Engagement at Scale

The power of those insights is to power dynamic, personalized campaigns that re-engage your dead-zone opportunities.

Using a platform like 6sense gives you the ability to create segments for accounts stuck in the dead zone, and target them with tailored messaging and offers.

Example #1

You can sort your accounts by ‌opportunities that have shown no movement for two weeks, filter them by criteria like the products they’ve been browsing on your site, and then launch a campaign that targets them with hyper-personalized display ads.

Similarly, you can leverage AI to engage these accounts and turn them back over to your human sales team once the accounts are showing renewed interest.

Example #2

A conversational email tool can automatically reach out to dead zone accounts, carry out conversations with accounts that reply, and resurface promising opportunities for your sales reps. All the while, your reps can stay focused on hot prospects, secure in the knowledge that just because other opportunities are in the dead zone, they aren’t being killed through neglect.

The dead zone represents a gigantic opportunity to boost your pipeline and turn low-percentage deals into real revenue — especially when you leverage AI and automation to re-engage them.

Alert Your Teams When an Opportunity is Back on Track

After launching campaigns designed to re-engage dead zone opportunities, it’s critical to create alerts to trigger quick action by your sales team.

The best time to engage a buyer who was dormant but is now active again is as soon as possible. By enabling alerts through a platform like 6sense your sellers will know exactly when a buyer is warming up again, what activity they’ve performed, and the best way to engage them.


The dead zone is where opportunities go to stall and never be heard from again. But it doesn’t always have to be this way.

The cure hails from “enablement, training, adoption, and accountability,” Nilsson explained in our recent exclusive interview. And it demands having “to pull up our big-person pants and be honest about why (the account) isn’t or is going to progress and share that feedback.”

By gaining deeper insights into an account and their activity, creating dynamic, personalized campaigns tailored for re-engagement, and alerting sellers as soon as an opportunity picks up steam, your opportunities will stop lingering in the dead zone.


The 6sense Team

6sense helps B2B organizations achieve predictable revenue growth by putting the power of AI, big data, and machine learning behind every member of the revenue team.

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