Going On A Sales Date – Part 9: Knowing When It’s Time To End The Date

It should be true for us that we have all dated more people than we have married. That is because it is a process to find the right one. So it would stand to reason that finding the right customers is also a process and there must also be the process of elimination. You are not going to marry everyone you date and you will not close the deal on every sale. Many, unfortunately, have been led to believe that you do not take ‘no’ for an answer. There is an entitled sense that every prospect can be won and it is nothing more than a myth. A myth so prolific that it can keep us from the sales we should be making instead of chasing time on the opportunities that really do not stand a chance.
How do you know when it is time to walk away from someone you are dating or selling to? Some of us are just as happy to stop calling and let the other person draw their own conclusion. Here are some signs that it is time to stop chasing a prospect:
  • You have been stonewalled and are not getting return responses. There are ways of working through this, but is it really worth it? Maybe, but it can sometimes mean giving up control. For the sake of efficiency, let’s take this as a signal and move on to other, more certain, opportunities.
  • The prospect stops coming through with their promises. The prospect says they will get more decision makers involved, or to send you their specs or set aside time for a product demo, but it never happens. You are being strung along and the prospect just doesn’t have the heart to tell you that it is over.
  • The prospect makes you rework your quote more than 3 times. Yes, there is still a chance of winning the business, but there is a greater chance that you are being used to manipulate one of your competitors. It is up to you to decide your threshold, but for me, 3 is the limit without getting some kind of firm commitment.
  • The prospect remains non-committal over an extended period of time. This can be better described as procrastination. This is different than not coming through on promises, this is for those who still say, ‘Gee, I still don’t know’ or ‘I just need a little more extra time’. Wake up. You are not a priority. You never were and you will never be. Even if you should happen to win this business, this will be a difficult person to work with.
How do you best avoid these scenarios? You must have a process that is delivered consistently that brings consistent results. Do you need help with your process? At Scorecard Sales, we’ve simplified sales processes with proven tools & techniques. If your process is fair and well defined, you will catch people playing games with you early on that really only ever wind up being time wasters. It will help you catch yourself being delusional about what opportunities you really have by having a clear idea of who your ideal customer is. Imagine what dating would be like if you didn’t have at least some basis of who your ideal mate is and a process for where to find them and what to say to them.
What do you do when you realize that it is over and time to move on? How do you confront the prospect with your intentions? Do you shut the door entirely or do you leave an opportunity in the future should things change? Here are some examples of how to address prospects that you suspect are wasting your time and you want to be firm but fair.
  • ‘Mrs. Prospect, I respect your time and process as to how you make your decision, but I feel that we have not made any significant progress. I get the sense that it is time for both of us to take a break from this process. Would you agree that we have reached an impasse and perhaps neither of us should be spending time together on this? If not, what is the next and most vital step you need to make a commitment?’
  • ‘Mr. Prospect, I was (and still am) excited about us doing business together, but I get the impression that you may not feel the same way and if this is the case it is okay. Are you still excited about us doing business and, if not, what would get you excited again? If you can’t answer that question, then let’s shake hands and go our separate ways.’
  • ‘Mrs. Prospect, I am happy to provide you with one more quote, but quotes are a lot of work and, perhaps after this quote, a sign of good faith is in order. Let’s decide what the maximum number of quotes allowed should be and target a date as a deadline for making your decision. Would you agree that this would be fair to both of us?’
Just like in dating, when you stop courting someone, you can still be friends as much as you want to be, and perhaps right now is not the time. I have seen sales relationships re-spark later down the road when there was a better context for a good fit for both parties. Admitting that it is time to move on is a tough decision to make and an even tougher conversation to have. But you will be happier knowing where you stand so you can make room for the other great customer that are out there waiting for you.

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