Walking away from a sale is often counter to the natural instincts of a salesperson. However, any time the long-term return on investment isn’t worth the time and resource allocation, walking away is the best move.
We’ve all done it at some stage in our careers. You’ve spent a lot of time working hard on ensuring you have everything just right, and eventually, it dawns on you that this has all been a waste of your valuable time.
It’s infuriating, right!
It’s not that you’re annoyed with your prospect, but that you’re annoyed with yourself for not realising it earlier. The trick is to identify common signals of an unprofitable buyer as soon as possible to exit the situation. Often this is the best course of action for you, your company, and the prospective client.
The Buyer is Relentlessly Price-Focused
It is typical for a business customer to enter a purchasing situation looking for the best price. A primary challenge for a value-oriented seller is to shift focus from price to quality, benefits and value. I would usually say that if the buyer continues to focus on price, it is because he or she doesn’t fully understand the value of your solution.
But when a buyer is unwilling to budge on price despite clear differentiation in the quality of your solution, walking away makes sense. It’s not only the fact that if you discount for this buyer once, but he will also expect it each time you do business. Also, it is important that the customer is a profitable one for your company.
Instead, it is usually better to let that buyer experience the drawbacks of a low-end solution as there is always the possibility that he returns to you more aware of the quality-price correlation.
There is No Urgency
Perhaps, what is more challenging for salespeople, is walking away when you feel a sale is still possible. However, that is what you need to do when a client is in no hurry to decide and faces no sense of urgency. No amount of coercing from you is going to change their mind. Willingness to buy is an important qualifying criterion. In selling, you can lean on a sense of urgency by emphasising the risk-aversion benefits of a sudden decision. It all depends on what industry you work in and your standard sales cycle.
When you sense that a buyer isn’t going to make a quick decision, turn your focus to more important opportunities. Two good early questions are, “What’s your timeline to make a purchasing decision?” and “When do you plan on having this project up and running?” Ask additional questions about sense of urgency and always ask who else will be involved in the process.
If there is no rush, a decision isn’t likely to be coming anytime soon. Mark it down to return at a later date, but walk away for now.
To walk away, your salespeople must think strategically and understand the big picture. Short-sightedness creates transactional approaches.
You Can’t Meet the Requirements
In some cases, your solutions just don’t align with the needs and demands of a buyer. Ideally, you avoid this selling situation altogether because of effective prospect targeting. However, sometimes buyers seek you out, or you don’t detect concerns until an initial needs assessment. When you don’t have a solution that meets the customer’s requirements, there is little to gain by being dishonest or forcing the sale.
You could create a transaction, but after the customer realises the solution doesn’t work for them, he will feel ripped off or annoyed, and potentially dissuade others from meeting with you. This can be more damaging for you in the long run. If a buyer needs a delivery timetable that you can’t meet, don’t say that you can.
Explain in writing what you can do and invite him to return if he isn’t able to get that timetable met. Due diligence is always necessary in this case.
In competitive industries, profitable sales only result when you build long-term relationships that escalate in value. Creating unfavourable transactions to convert deals takes time away from better long-term opportunities. If you detect a relentlessly price-focused buyer or one who is unwilling to make a commitment, walking away preserves valuable time and resources. Walking away when the solution doesn’t fit is the right move. Above all, never feel bad about walking away from a sale. If your gut tells you it is the right thing to do, it probably is.