Walking away from a prospect is hard. You’ve invested your time, energy and resources in hopes of converting into a sale. You’ve established a quality relationship and been flexible to their needs (which is sometimes part of the problem), so how can you just walk away from the sale?
You’ve done all you can for them up to this point, and giving up means you’ll walk away with nothing to show for it. This is especially true since this is one of the few prospects in your pipeline that you’ve actually followed up with.
On average, 48% of sales reps won’t even make a single follow up attempt. The truth is that your fortune is in the follow up because 80% of sales require at least 5 follow up attempts after an initial meeting.
This is one of the toughest things for sales professionals to do, and more often than not, the most frustrating. You talk with a prospect who tells you all of the information you need to know, you determine their pain points and when it comes down to pricing, they just can’t quite swing it.
So, you do what you have to in order to get them a discount. They say is all sounds perfect, but don’t buy on the spot. Instead, they give you a date that they’ll pull the trigger.
Said date finally rolls around. You’re banking on this sale to be finalized when you do your forecast for quota, and like it’s happened a million times before, you can’t get a hold of them, or they’re still not ready. Now the games begin.
In the long run, knowing when to mark an opportunity as “closed lost” or “disqualified,” and walk away from that potential customer will save you an absurd amount of time. Having the hindsight to throw in the towel will make you a more efficient sales rep and have you focusing your energy on customers with real buying potential.
Now let’s get to it.
#1 | Lack Of Communication
In order to determine the quality of a prospect there has to be a lot of communication. Sales reps have to be asking the right questions, but asking questions is not one sided. Potential customers need to be asking you questions as well. There’s a very small chance a prospect listens to your pitch and understand every single thing you’ve touched on without having some questions. Almost every prospect will need some type of clarification. This is one early sign to walk away.
There is usually some lag time between the sending and signing of the proposal, but don’t worry. As long as there’s plenty of communication between both parties during this window, it’s not a red flag. However, if they start ghosting you, you might want to prepare for the possibility that it’s time to walk away from the sale.
If they can’t tell you where they are or give you an update on what’s happening, there’s little chance they’re going to answer on the deadline date.
#2 | The Prospect Is Too Focused On The Final Sale
It’s critical to understand your presentation and product are more than just dollars and cents. In the book Nonstop Sales Boom by Colleen Francis, she points out, “Prospects who ask about price early have already made up their mind to buy from someone else.” This is certainly a quality indication that it’s time to walk away.
You should also consider that if a prospect is focused solely on numbers, he or she is not interested in searching for the solution that best fits their true needs.
If their concern is simply fitting any solution available into the budget they have allotted (which is most likely too low to actually solve their problem), the result will be a client that does not appreciate the proven, individualized product or service that your company offers.
If they’re only able to see the dollar amount – and not the value of the product – they’re not worth your time. Because in the end, you get what you pay for.
#3 | They Really Don’t Have The Budget
This one can be a little bit tricky. As a sales professional, you’re used to hearing how clients don’t have the budget for something or how they can’t afford the price of your product or service. Differentiating between whether they’re trying to work you over for a discount or they don’t actually have the money to spend is a challenge.
You have to listen for other signs throughout your presentation that indicate they don’t actually have the ability to pay for your service. These are often very subtle comments that don’t just scream, “We can’t afford this.” You have to pay attention and know what to look for throughout the conversation.
People can always afford something they see the value in and know is going to work. Chances are if they’re asking for a discount they’re either trying to save money or they’re trying to get the price down to what they believe the value of your service is.
#4 | You Offered A Discount And There’s No Urgency
A lot of salespeople think that just because they offered a discount, the prospect is going to jump at the price reduction. When they don’t, sales reps are often surprised. If you offered a discount and this happens, you offered the discount at the wrong time or you used it as a way to incentivize the prospect to make a purchase. If they don’t buy then, it’s likely a sign that it’s time to walk away from the sale.
Before providing a discount, there needs to be an established timeline for when they’re expected to make the purchase and you need to stick to it. This is absolutely essential.
The second you break your word and give them an extension or a greater price break, you lose all credibility and have given the prospect the upper-hand.
Know the value of your product. If a discount doesn’t entice the prospect to buy, or it’s the deciding factor whether or not they buy, that person isn’t the type of customer you want.
Regardless whether or not you’ve offered a discount, your walk away presence should be used as leverage to get potential customers to make a purchasing decision. The worst thing a sales rep can do is to constantly drag a sale out. Even if the answer is no, you want a decision because you don’t want to keep wasting time with prospects that have no chance of buying from you.
People want more of the things they can’t have. This is an important psychology to always have at the front of your mind when closing a deal.
To create a sense of urgency and get a decision, imposing a strict deadline is a powerful tool you have at your disposal. In order to be able to use walk away presence as a negotiating tactic, you need to have confirmation that your product or service is something the customer wants.
Threatening to walk away from a deal that isn’t of high importance to a prospect will almost surely leave it as a closed lost opportunity.
If you offer a discount and the prospect actually seems excited and grateful for your efforts, your walk away presence will almost always guarantee you one of two things:
- A reason why they haven’t pulled the trigger or
- A purchase
If you’ve established your walk away presence, potential customers tend to be better in their communication with you. You can normally hear the sense of urgency and sincerity in their voice. There’s a real difference in customers who have an actual need for your product than those who don’t. Often, this is obvious when paying attention to the subtle cues in each conversation.
With any type of walk away presence, you have to know the value of your product and establish a standard. It’s critical that you never try to sell by price. The customers that are usually the quickest to say they can’t afford it are the customers who will be the quickest to buy.
Verbal communication isn’t the only type of communication that will help you establish your walk away presence. How you carry yourself and your body language also plays an important role. You only get one shot – don’t blow it by committing one of the 5 body language mistakes that will cost you the sale. You have to be 100% confident in your actions and have the body language to back it up.
Too many sales reps aren’t paying attention to hints that potential customers are giving them all throughout their buying journey.
They either don’t recognize them because they don’t know what to look for, or they’re completely ignoring them because they believe a sale can be made. Ignoring the signs that are telling you it’s time to walk away from a sale are only hurting your closing percentage and increasing the length of the sales cycle.
Thinking you can make the sale is great, but those aren’t the customers you want. You’re setting yourself – and more importantly – the customer, up for failure.
Pay attention to the small details throughout each conversation and know when it’s time to walk. Using walk away presence as leverage will have you working more quality, high value targets, and closing the right customers.