When is it Time to Walk Away from a Prospect?


How long should you pursue a prospect?

I get asked this question all the time and yes, each situation is unique.

There are several underlying things you can look at to help determine when it’s time.

The biggest problem many people have in walking away is the size of the prize. The huge opportunity that would change your career is something you just don’t want to miss out on.

Same thing can be said of playing the lottery. The lure of the big prize is there, but so too are the extremely long odds.

Quit thinking you’re going to be the one in 20 million who is able to close the mega deal. You’ll starve to death waiting for that one in 20 million odds to come your way.

Spend your time working on deals that have odds of success you can achieve. I’ve seen far too many new salespeople get caught up in their own excitement and wind up failing miserably.

Don’t think for a moment your excitement and determination is all it’s going to take to close the mother of all deals.

Second biggest question I get on this topic is whether or not it makes sense to walk away from a prospect who can’t make a decision or is simply not motivated to buy.   Again, this is a tough one, but a key factor I use is assessing the quality of information they’ve shared and does it have value to them.

Many salespeople get lulled into thinking because all of their conversations with the prospect go well, then there is a sale in the making. Sorry, that’s simply not the case. These are what I call “fake buyers.”

These people talk up a good story and can even be quite charismatic with regard to drawing you into their world. The only thing these people wind up doing is wasting your time.

Ask yourself, “Has the prospect shared with me critical information about their most critical needs? Has the prospect given me an indication as to when they intend to make a decision?”

I’m amazed in talking with salespeople about this issue the number of times they can’t answer these simple questions.

As a salesperson, you’re paid to close sales, not talk to prospects.  Any hour spent with a prospect who isn’t going to make a decision is an hour spent you will never get back.

This is why I’m a huge proponent of asking the prospect early in the conversation when they intend to make a decision, as well as asking them how they intend to make a decision.

When I do decide to walk away from a prospect, I’m not walking away forever. No, I’ll come back to them in a few months, as we never know when situations change.

In the meantime, I will make sure they remain on any marketing lists the company has. Again, the objective is to be there when things might change.

Copyright 2015, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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1 thought on “When is it Time to Walk Away from a Prospect?”

  1. I love getting these informative sales tips. This question of how long to pursue a prospect hits me every day. I have many people I have provided a demo to, sent proposals, and I ask them, when should I follow up with you on this so that you can let me know how you wish to proceed. Many times they will give me a date. I will follow up and then, they start making excuses…well I have not had time to share with the publisher your proposal, or the decision maker has been very busy and has not had time to review the proposal. Then they say…call me at the end of the month. I call them back when they say. I have a few HUGE deals that I thought would close but every time I call back I get another put off. When should I walk away? How many times do you recommend that I reach out to these people before giving them 6 to 8 months, and yet I make it a point to tell them with every contact I have with them, “If I can help you in any way…please know I am just a phone call or an e-mail away”. I make myself available. I have no idea how to gage this. Any tips?

    If you don’t know the person that well, I find it very hard to ask them when they intend and how they intend to make a decision. I have more of a soft sell approach. Could you give me a softer approach that will allow me to get the answer to this question? I look forward to hearing from you!

    Your tips are timely and amazing!

    PS. I also enjoyed the prospecting CEO 5 things you must know! Most of them I do now, but I did pick up a few things on that as well.

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