Have the Presence to Walk Away From a Bad Prospect

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How many times have your people found themselves in this scenario? They have invested a good chunk of time with a prospect. The sales cycle is going much longer than anticipated and the prospective client has said all the right things to your reps, leading them to believe the upcoming sale is going to happen.

Then dates are pushed back once, twice, three times. They don’t return calls and emails and when they do, they provide less and less information. And to make matters worse, they already told you “this one is going to close.” Unfortunately, when your reps meet with you, the only update they can provide is “it is going to be next month, boss.”

For the traditional salesperson this occurs for several reasons. Could it be the salesperson failed to find truly compelling reasons to do business? Were next steps clearly defined, or was it left with a “think it over” and the sales rep went into follow-up mode? Was the decision process even understood? Does the sales rep have a long personal buy cycle, so they over-empathize when prospects need to think about it and take their time before making a decision?

This is where a sale can get completely off track. Salespeople have a tendency to implement fake deadlines (which rarely works), claim that pricing increases are going to happen on a certain date (which rarely works), offer discounts because they think the problem is price (which is a horrible idea), or they become a professional pest and ultimately turn the prospective client off.

It is clear the problem occurred way before it was time to try to close the sale. The next time the salesperson is in this position, they must have walkaway presence. They have to go for the “No” from the prospect rather than the “Maybe.” They have to still be respectful and care – but care a little less than the prospective client. They have to take it away from them and obtain permission to challenge the prospective client’s commitment.

It takes guts to have that walkaway presence. It is always easier to stay in follow-up mode rather than dropping a poor prospect and finding new opportunities. But by having the guts to walk away, salespeople will find themselves walking into more sales.

Photo by Vladimir Konoyalov Photography

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