Sales, especially B2B complex sales involve the buy-in of many parties and the investment of a significant amount of time, resources and energy from both the buyer and the seller.
You want to get to “Yes” (assuming the deal is a solid deal for all parties) but the reality is that a “No” happens. In fact, it probably happens to most salespeople more than a “Yes” happens.
If a “No” is going to happen your preference should be to have it happen sooner, rather than later. Value your time and resources and manage your pipeline like you would a portfolio. Weed out the non performers (the no’s) and focus your attention on those that have the highest possibility of being a Yes. If you are like most salespeople, you keep deals on life support far longer than you should. When a prospect is dragging their feet, when they keep asking you to circle back in two months, when they become unresponsive, when you know from experience it isn’t going to happen then you need to have “the talk” with them.
Many prospects don’t like to say No; it makes them uncomfortable and they may actually like you but know they won’t be doing business with you but string you along for months on end. When I have accounts that are not moving anywhere or are moving at a glacial speed I try to give them permission to “end our relationship” or “just be friends”. I might let them know that we’ve been discussing issue X for Y months and that we’ve spent a lot of man hours and invested a lot in the process but it doesn’t appear that the timing is right or the solution is a fit. Would it be ok if I stopped following up?
Often just framing it in a way that makes it less uncomfortable for them to be frank is in everyone’s best interest.
Give it a shot– a no is better sooner than it is later.
About Peter Winick
Peter enables thought leaders, authors and gurus to monetize their content through books, keynote speaking, the creation of training services and products and consulting and assessment tools. More at www.thoughtleadershipleverage.com