5 Signs You Should Walk Away from Your Sales Prospect

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Houston, we have a problem!

You would be hard-pressed to find a Sales professional who doesn’t believe that their goal is to qualify their prospects, identify the true buyers, and ultimately make the sale. Building long term, genuine client relationships is the most important metric in today’s competitive marketplace. Providing a service or product to help a customer solve a problem or produce better results is hugely satisfying. We all strive for that final commitment and final signature, so we can do the happy dance and celebrate a happy customer and a happy sales manager. On the other hand, there are situations where salespeople are better off declining new business. Without question, this is the most difficult decision for any sales professional. The question is, at what point is it reasonable to cut a prospect loose and walk away?

5 Signs Your Potential Sale is a No-Go for Launch

1. Not communicating with the command center. In order to determine whether or not your product or service is the right fit for a client, it’s important for both sides to ask the right questions. While it’s obvious you need the right information to assess the needs of the client, it’s just as important that they ask questions to ensure you are the right fit for them. If you are dealing with a passive listener during your presentation who does not pose questions of their own about your process and approach, they are either unclear about their needs, they haven’t secured the necessary budget and are simply “shopping around”, or they don’t consider this engagement a true priority.

2. Too focused on the landing when you haven’t even taken off. Price is undoubtedly a factor when a prospective client is looking to buy. However, your sales presentation and your product are more than dollar and cents. In her new bookNonstop Sales Boom, author Colleen Francis says, “Prospects who ask about price early have already made up their mind to buy from someone else.” I’d go so far as to add that if a prospect is focused solely on numbers, he or she is not interested in securing the solution that best suits their needs. Rather, their only concern is fitting any solution into their budget (which most likely, is too low to actually solve their problem). The result will be a client that does not appreciate the expert, high-touch, proven and individualized service you are offering.

3. Breaking the noise ordinance. Just as it’s important for a prospect to ask questions to determine whether your product or service will meet their needs, it’s equally important that they listen to the answers you provide. Prospects can wax poetic about why their company is special and their needs unique. However, it’s important they remember that you’ve done your research and you have the perfect solution that will ultimately solve their unique problem. If they are unwilling to listen to the solutions you provide, they certainly won’t be willing to listen to your recommendations on implementation.

4. The countdown has begun but there’s no sign of lift off. You can deliver the perfect presentation, engage in productive dialogue where both sides are asking engaging questions and still end up grounded. There are few things more frustrating than having a prospective client suddenly go dark – failing to return phone calls and emails, and essentially disappearing into outer space. There are many reasonable explanations for why this could happen, and you don’t necessarily want to jump to the most cynical option. However, if a potential client is ready to seal the deal and make the purchase, he or she should have the courtesy to notify you when there is a sudden change of direction. Whether there are budgetary or personnel challenges, if they want your product or service and value your partnership, they will keep you in the loop and allow you the opportunity to make changes to meet their revised specs. If t-minus 1 arrives, and you haven’t heard anything for weeks, the sale will most likely never get off the Launchpad.

5. The client cannot take one small step for the company. Taking the leap to provide specific deliverables, a timeline and a launch process is a sign that a prospect is ready to do business. These prospects are clearly demonstrating their desire and readiness to select and implement your process. Colleen Francis describes that if the prospect cannot answer 3 basic and important questions, it is clear they are not serious about making a decision.

a. What does success look like with this project?
b. Who else will be involved in this decision?
c. When do you need to have this project completed?

Our firm recently turned down two new business opportunities, based solely on the prospect breaking Rules 1, 2 and 3. There was a complete lack of listening, they were focused solely on price, there was little to no engagement and dialogue, and it was obvious they viewed our service as a commodity, and nothing else. All the signs were there – this prospect was not going to value our expertise, recommendations or process.

As a sales professional, your time and expertise are a valuable commodity. Although we are all trained to focus on getting the sale, some prospects are not a wise investment- even if your product or service is the perfect solution for them. Potential clients who can articulate their needs and are willing to engage in a partnership throughout the prospecting process will not only appreciate your product and respond to your insights, they will inevitably help you reach your goal of making the sale.

For insights on maximizing your chances of making the sale, read Rob Swette’s articles found on the Sales Leadership Alliance website.

About the Authors
Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

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