3 Signs It’s Time to Cut Your Losses & How to Move On
As salespeople, we live in hope. We have to. Sales requires an optimism that things can turn around and the knowledge that lucky streaks (and similarly, dry spells) are a fallacy. Each new client has to be approached with fresh eyes. And yet, even with all of that hope, there are times when it is necessary to admit defeat. Some sales, no matter what you do, cannot be closed - at least not right now.
How do you know when to let go and walk away? What can you learn from these experiences that can be applied in the future?
Let’s take a closer look.
So, when should you walk away from a prospect? There are a few telltale signs to look out for. In my experience, these 3 are the most common:
- You can’t reach the decision maker
- Radio silence
- Not a good fit
Have you ever had several conversations with a prospect before eventually realizing that they are not the decision maker? If your contact doesn’t know what his budget is, what his time frame is, or how he would measure the success of your business solution, he might not be the decision maker. If he’s unwilling or unable to connect you to the decision maker, walk away. There’s no use wasting time on a dead end.
When you simply cannot get a hold of someone - whether they’ve stopped returning your calls and emails or the gatekeeper suddenly becomes a lot more vague and dismissive - it might be time to walk away. Sure, it’s possible that your contact has suddenly taken a leave of absence and will consider your proposal when they get back into the office, but if that’s the best case scenario, your energy is better spent working with clients who are willing to work with you now.
Alternatively, they might be dodging your calls because they think you’re a very convincing salesperson and they’re afraid that talking with you could result in them making a decision that they’re either not ready for or that ultimately would not benefit their company, which leads to the next point:
If after talking to the decision maker, fully understanding their pain, and making sure they truly understand the solution you can offer, you find it’s not a good fit, then walk away. In the long run, it won’t do you any good to close a deal that only benefits one party. Have integrity and explore possibilities with clients who need your solution as much as you need to close a deal.
Walking away can take an emotional toll, especially when you feel like you were close to making a deal. Spend 10 minutes being angry and frustrated, if that’s what you need. Then, strategize about how you can learn from this experience and then move on.
- What went wrong?
- Keep the door open
Analyze what happened. Were there signs that this wasn’t going to pan out? How could you have realized it sooner?
Was there a miscommunication that could’ve been avoided? Could you have communicated more effectively? Could you have asked more questions to make sure that you and the prospect were on the same page?
Conduct a full post-mortem. Self-assess the effectiveness of your communication with the prospect. Share your findings with your manager or a coworker. Often, explaining something you’ve learned to someone else will help solidify the point and illuminate new insights. You can even say it to yourself out loud (self-explaining) to achieve similar results.
Although you’ve decided to stop pursuing this deal, you should consider staying in touch with the ex-prospect. The key here is not to come across as pushy, while keeping the door open for future opportunities. How can you do that?
You can send the ex-prospect an update letting them know what’s new with you or with the industry. If you know of an industry event coming up, drop a line and invite them. Don’t ask them for anything in return, just keep the lines of communication open and let them know that you have your finger on the pulse of changes in the market.
You can also comment on their social media activity. If you see them making a good, bold move, leave some positive feedback. If you have a constructive comment, leave that too. Again, the key here is not to ask for a phone call in return. However, if you engage with them in this way, you’ll prove yourself as not simply a salesperson looking to close a deal, but an expert and trusted consultant who’s interested in their overall success.
Despite your best efforts, some deals simply won’t make it to the finish line. Keep your eyes peeled for warning signs that may lead you down a dead end road and be strategic about cutting your losses so you can focus on clients with real potential.
Once you’ve decided to walk away from a prospect, keep your head up. It’s not a failure, it’s an opportunity to learn for next time. Commit to not making the same mistake twice and keep the door open for future opportunities.
About Brittany Bookbinder
Brittany is an actor, writer, and Muppet enthusiastic. She grew up on Long Island, where her hobbies included writing love poems and watching TGIF, often at the same time. These days, she writes for Evil Studios Ltd., performs comedy and music, and makes video shorts independently and with the iO Comedy Network. She has performed in independent films, regional theatre, sketch comedy and improv all over Chicago. She is also an artistic collaborator with Theater Unspeakable, with whom she co-created Superman 2050 and Murder on the Midwest Express. She has performed Superman 2050 throughout the country, including Lincoln Center in NYC and the Kennedy Center in DC. Training: She holds a B.S. Theatre, a minor in Creative Writing and a certificate in Music Theatre from Northwestern University. She has studied acting at the School at Steppenwolf and British American Drama Academy. She has studied improv in the Second City Conservatory, iO Chicago, CIC Theatre and currently at the Annoyance. Brittany is a guest blog contributor for DMTraining.