Hi there and welcome to the first edition of “Crushing Sales Secrets”. This secret will save you time and frustration as well as actually help your business build and refine it’s ideal sales tactics. Today is all about knowing when to say when and how to turn a rejection into a learning experience.
WHEN TO SAY “ENOUGH”!
If you’ve been in sales for any amount of time, then you’ve had a situation like this:
You’ve been working with a client (We’ll call him Jim) for weeks. You’ve met with him at his office several times. You’ve agreed on the value you provide and the pricing seems acceptable. You’ve presented a proposal. The client needs time to “look it over”. Weeks go by and you can’t get him to answer your emails or return your calls. You may finally get a hold of him and you set up an appointment at his office to go over the proposal again and (hopefully) sign. The day of the meeting comes and he calls you to “reschedule” for later on the week. You reschedule and he calls again on the new date and has to cancel. He says he’ll call you back next week to set something up. He never calls. You can’t get a hold of him again.
Sound familiar? At this point you’ve probably wasted 12-15 hours on this client between pre-meeting research, drive time (and gas), phone time, proposal writing time, and administrative time getting him the products and pricing that he needed. Yet, truthfully are you any closer to the sale than you were? Probably not. If the client had truly “bought in” to the value that you proposed, he would have signed weeks ago. Now it almost feels like you are harassing him. It’s way beyond time to cut bait on this client. It’s not going to happen. Let it go.
Why does this happen?
There are a million reasons this can happen. Maybe the customer doesn’t truly understand your value proposition no matter how many times you’ve explained it. Maybe there just isn’t good chemistry between you and the client. Maybe the client hasn’t been honest and has already signed with someone else. Maybe they just don’t like your face. It happens. You have no control over it. But you DO have control over when to walk away and focus your time on new (hopefully more responsive) prospects.
“But what if sticking around will eventually close this sale? Wouldn’t that make it worth it?”
In a word, “no”. We’ve already established that you’ve spent 15 hours on this client already. Say you stick around for another few weeks and after calling and emailing him multiple times, you finally manage to set up another appointment. You go to the appointment (if he doesn’t cancel) and nitpicks the proposal and you set up another appointment for the revisions. Say he FINALLY signs. Guess what? You’ve just wasted close to 24 hours on closing this sale. Unless you are selling exceptionally high ticket items or this kind of time commitment is standard in your industry, you have just given up 3 FULL work days to close 1 sale. And to be honest, these kinds of time sink customers rarely ever end up closing, so your time will most likely be wasted anyway. Does that make financial sense? Most likely not.
Let’s look at the math. At that rate you’d be looking at a MAXIMUM of 6 sales per month. 6 of the most excruciating and frustrating sales of your career EVERY month. If you are selling $50,000+ computer systems then it may make sense. If you are selling $800 training packages, you could be in serious trouble.
The hidden cost of not walking away
There is another consequence of spending too much time on the flaky prospect that many sales people don’t think of. Most sales people think that if they close the sale eventually then it doesn’t matter how much time it takes. It isn’t wasted time as long as the sale closes at some point. Well I beg to differ. Let’s look at a (very simple) scenario:
You sell widgets. Your quota is 5 widgets per week. If you typically spend an hour of cold calling to set 1 appointment and you close 1 out of three appointments, then your average cost (in time) per sale (assuming the average appointment is 1 hour long) is 6 hours. Allowing for travel time and other miscellaneous administrative tasks, you generally put about 8 hours into a sale. Now, let’s say you have 2 customers that fall into the category mentioned above of 24 hours. If you could have walked away from those two customers after 4-8 hours, you could have spent that same time closing 3-6 additional sales. You have just lost a week’s worth of sales (on average) to these 2 time sinks. Were they worth it? Does it really matter WHO you sell to? Would the 5 other sales you could have closed been any less valuable? Of course not! 5 sales is better than 2 (assuming the average sale is the same across the board).
HOW DO I WALK AWAY?
In most “walk away” scenarios, you simply stop calling the prospect. You have made your value proposal and they did not bite. Save them the trouble of ignoring your calls and deleting your emails. It’s as simple as that.
HOW TO USE THE ABANDONED PROSPECT TO IMPROVE YOUR SALES STRATEGY
Here’s how I handle the lost prospect after I stop pursuing them. I usually give it about a month or so. Any sooner and they think you’re still badgering them. Too much later and they won’t be as much help to you.
After a month or so, I call them up and ask them what I could have done better. I don’t use it as an obvious ploy to re-engage them, but as a sincere request for help. Obviously, something went wrong. Whether it was something YOU did wrong or something that happened within your prospect’s life or business, your job now is to find out what happened and how you can use that information to improve your sales pitch moving forward.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
Ultimately, it is up to you to figure out when to say “enough’s enough”. There is no one particular formula, but this is a skill that every advanced sales professional must acquire at some time in their career. Every sales environment has a different sweet spot where you begin to negatively affect your sales quota. Some simple math and some good advice from your peers or sales manager should help you find the sweet spot in YOUR industry.
Let me know if you found this helpful in the comments below. Stay tuned for part 2 of Crushing Sales Secrets!
Bill Price is one of the founders and COO of Business Begins Here LLC. He has over 16+ years of experience in Business Management, e-Commerce, Customer Service, and Project Management across multiple industries. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs start and grow their dream businesses. In his spare time he likes to learn languages, watch sports, and dream big dreams.