If you’ve heard any of the following statements from prospects, keep reading to learn more about how to determine when to walk away and when to continue investing time and energy.
“I need to confer with other managers here.”
“I need more time to decide.”
“Call me in about a month.”
If you’re selling, you’ve likely heard these and other variations of the “put-off” and the “postpone.” You’ve turned yourself into a wolf hound that pursues and pursues until you get your teeth into the meat. Come what may, you’ve been determined to close the sale no matter what. Nice intention. Poor approach.
Why is this a poor approach? Because these responses are just another way of saying, “No.” And “no” thirty days from now is still the same as “no” today. If you settle for these responses, you’re letting your pursuit instinct take the lead from your thinking mind.
The first thing you should do when you hear “no” in any of its myriad forms is to ask a question. For example, “I may be missing something here, but could you let me know why you want to postpone rather than decide now on a next step?”
If a prospect then tries to wriggle out of a straight answer, or says some form of “no” response, this tells you he or she isn’t going to budge. The message is: “I’m not willing to invest time, energy, or resources with you.” And if that’s the case, it’s time to close the file. What you agree to next will bounce you down into the sales limbo of hope. When you’re there, nothing positive will happen for you no matter what you say or do.
This doesn’t mean that any and every prospect request for a postponement will result in a no. You may be calling when a company is caught up in a crisis of some kind. In situations like these, you may want to agree with a request to postpone. However, before doing so, establish a few rules:
- Find realistic compatibility with your prospect. You and the prospect have at least agreed on this.
- Agree to a timeline. If you agree to a postponement, the date of your next meeting should be pinned down to an exact date and time.
- Don’t settle for non-committal words. Wishy-washy words from the client like “probably” or “maybe” won’t do—they lack sincerity and won’t move the sale forward.
If the conversation follows these rules, then agree to a postponement. Remember that anything less will slide you into the sales limbo of hope, where you’ll waste your time and energy instead of doing your job of closing sales.