Ask yourself, is all business good business?
As salespeople, we have to deal with a certain amount of uncertainty in our jobs. No matter how close a deal is to closing, in the back of our minds, we know that it’s never too late for a deal to completely fall through at the last second. We’ve all experienced it, and we’ve all been left feeling devastated and frustrated because of it. We’ve all had great sales success and unfortunately, some let downs, but I have learned that I have accomplished much more success when I recognize whether a prospect is good or bad for business in the early steps of the process.
I know that recognizing whether a prospect is good or bad for business is not always clear-cut. Sometimes, you may have to put more time into certain prospects than others, and that does not necessarily mean they are bad for business, but that they may need more direction or concerns answered before closing. So I am not saying that you should walk away from every deal that seems hard, because if you did then you would not be in sales. However, I am saying that the in order to consistently achieve success, you need to weed out the serious buyers from the not so serious buyers. To help sales professionals avoid these heartaches, I have focused on three factors that will signal you that you may be working with a prospect that is bad for business.
- Lack of communication
This can be one of the first signs. If a prospect has not returned any of your calls or has cancelled on you and rescheduled more than once, then they may be wasting your time. Don’t focus your efforts on those prospects. More often than not, they will come back to you when they do have a need. The hope is that after contacting them, educating them on your product or service and overcoming any objections, the prospect will realize that you offer the best solution. Communication is key and if it is not taking place, focus your efforts elsewhere.
- Lack of transparency:
Again, usually obvious from the start, although not always. Feedback is a critical factor in any sales process and if prospects are leaving you in the dark or being evasive, then the deal may be lost. A great way to open them up is asking leading questions. This is a great way to qualify them, find out their concerns, requalify them and ultimately be able to close. The goal is not to earn a one-time customer but actually build an ongoing partnership which can only be accomplished with communication and transparency. Let them know that the difference is in the details and that in order for you to help they need to communicate throughout the process.
- Lack of honesty:
On top of communication and transparency, the biggest component in a sales transaction is trust. This is usually the biggest concern for any customer. Can they trust you and can you trust them? Can this partnership work? Unfortunately, by the time you figure out that there is a lack of honesty or trust, it’s often too late and the deal is already doomed. Rely on the other indicators like communication and feedback to determine whether or not a prospect is a serious buyer. If they waiver on their decision or try to play games based around money, then they may not be good for business. Remember, the goal is not a one-time transaction. You rely on the customer’s satisfaction and retention to continue to grow your brand and increase sales.
My career in sales has taught me a lot about business prospects and realizing that not all business is good business. Like in every sales role, there will be ups and downs, but thankfully with experience you will be able to recognize a good deal from a bad deal earlier in the process. So if you have a bad experience, just move on from it and keep going forward. Don't find yourself holding on to a bad deal. Once you start identifying and working with the great prospects, you will find yourself building trusting and long-term partnerships.