Consulting

What changes in your organisation would create the greatest advantage for you?

Recruitment

The cost of getting the selection wrong is at least three, if not seven times salary

Coach or Train

What skills do your people need to make the greatest sustainable improvement?

When do you give up on a prospect?

Winning new business isn’t always easy and it isn’t always quick; closing deals often requires being consistently persuasive and to keep on reminding prospects about your products and services until they give you a firm commitment to buy.

 

Most of us give up too early

Research by Marketing Wizdom, suggests only one in 50 sales, or 2%, are made at a first meeting, yet many sales people give up after just one or two put-offs. Add to that by what the Marketing Edge and Harvard Business Review say… That being at least 80% of sales occur between the 2nd and 5th call while only 20% of sales people make a third call…

Your perseverance to at least a sixth call or visit will give you a major edge on competitors. Patience and persistence are key.

 

How do you know when it’s time to give up?

How can you tell that no matter how persuasive you are, this particular prospect will never buy and is just wasting your time?

Some people are just too polite to simply say no. You can spend a lot of time in meetings, chatting on the phone, and chasing them for a sale that will never come. In truth that is a lot of money and energy spent attempting to get them to respond to your offer. Where does it stop?  When is it that you make a decision that it will never happen and you’re better off putting the effort in elsewhere? Too many follow up attempts means you cannot put that time into developing fresh leads or fresh conversations. Those fresh contacts may well be far more profitable.

 

I recommend that you stop after nine 'nos'.

I also recommend stopping at contact attempts, when you cannot get through, or at least swap to a different channel if you are determined to carry on.

 

I get through OK – they just say no…

If you are getting through to them occasionally and they are politely saying no each time then it is insanity, according to Einstein, to expect a different result next time you ask if you are making the exact same offer…

 

Increase the value / Reduce the risk

Often the pain of moving suppliers, implementing your solution or simply making a decision is too much. While there could be undoubted benefits in your product or service, over and above your competition, inertia winds 60% of the time. 60% of the time the prospect simply puts the decision off. It is not just no to you. It is no to making any decision at all.

Before you give up completely on a prospect think about increasing the value of the offer. Add something extra for free as an incentive for them to sign up with you. Or reduce the risk for them, start with a smaller offer to reduce the cost to them while protecting your margin or offer a guarantee. 

As a last resort, discount your price. Some prospects might be waiting for you to do this. If you do discount, make it very clear that you’re doing so to win the business and it’s not a permanent price drop you are offering. Loss leaders do one thing for sure, which is lose you money. So trade the discount for something to help you, like faster payment terms or a larger order value.

 

What about objections?

Let’s not forget, they are people with emotions and 100 different reasons why your product or service might not be right for them at this particular moment in time. There is skill in understanding the human element to the buying process and nurturing a prospect through objection elimination. That is to say, once all objections (reasons for them to say no) have been removed, it only remains to ask for the business.

If the answer is no at this stage, then this may be a point at which you give up on this prospect. Provided this isn’t the first no they have given you. Some research suggests that at least 63% of buying decisions take three months or more and at least 20% take over twelve months. Stay on the case until you know for sure a decision has been made to go with another product or supplier.

 

The buyer’s never ending journey

Of course, even though someone has bought a competitor’s product or service, that doesn’t mean that business has gone for ever. The prospect is still a prospect because they have bought exactly what you offer – almost… Having bought they have to implement, then things will slowly or quickly change over time and at some point they will recognise that they have new needs. When they are aware that something has changed they will seek out new options and start considering the various plusses and minuses of the different options. You need to stay engaged with that journey, not too often to be considered a stalker and more Trusted Advisor than Sales Person so you can gentle nudge them around their own never ending journey.

If you wait until they put out a request for information – you will be way too late.

 

Last resort question

If none of the above has worked and you’ve had at least five and maybe even nine proposal discussions or nine decent conversations, then it is time to start thinking about saying goodbye to this person as a prospect. Ask one last question before you ride off into the sunset – the last resort question

 

It might sound like this: Mr Prospect it doesn’t sound like you and I are going to do business at the moment. Tell me what would have to change in order to make that even a possibility?

 

Last resort message

If the last resort question does not work, then it is time to use the last resort message

Send one last message letting them know where everything stands and what a great deal they’re missing out on. State that this is your final offer and you will not contact them again. However, at the end of the message, make sure that they know where and how to contact you if they become interested in what you are offering.

 

In might sound like this:Mr Prospect it doesn’t sound like you and I are going to do business in the near future. Let me leave you with these two thoughts. One – my company is really good at solving (one or two specific problems = your true USP) and my Boss says it must not cost a customer more to work with us when compared to their current supplier. I will send you one last email with my contact details on and that way if you want to reconnect at a more appropriate time, please feel free to do so.

 

Summary

In truth, it’s difficult to know when to give up on a prospect. Research proves we should make at least five and may be as many as nine attempts.

You should only give up on a prospect when it feels like you have covered every aspect possible to make it happen. If it was meant to be, it would have happened at some point. There is no point wasting time on something that will not bring you closer to what you or they need.

 

If you want to know more about turning your prospects into profitable business – contact us here

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