Last week I wrote a piece about the importance, and more specifically, the must have attributes of Next Steps. Had questions around the topic, most were relating to what to do if one of the three attributes were not attained. At that point you have a choice, retrace and see how you can firm up the loose attribute, or, drop it and move on to the next prospect.
When I suggest the latter, people say “ho, I can’t do that.”
The answer lies in the state of their pipeline, and in the case of those people who don’t want to drop it and move on, it is usually the anemic state of their pipeline. You can’t force people to give you a next step, some pundits may have some questionable techniques or tricks, but next steps have to be earned. Assuming you did everything you could to earn that next step, and they don’t want to come along, there is only one logical action, move on to the next prospect. The challenge is that some have so few real opportunities in their pipeline that they are afraid to drop one, one less opportunity, real or not, just becomes too depressing and real. So rather than dropping it, they go for another fix, another hit of hopium, and waste more time and effort try to resurrect a dead opportunity.
And there is the rub, sales people spend so much time trying to breathe life into the dead that they don’t get around to prospecting to generate sufficient number of opportunities, Yes Virginia, Sales in a Numbers Game. if you had a bushel of apples and one was bad, would you care? But if you had two apples, hadn’t eaten in days, and one was bad, you’ll find a way to rationalize taking a bite.
The first option above, also has to be tempered. It does make sense to review with the prospect why they may be reluctant to commit. You may find you overlooked something, which can be easily resolved. You may find that while they agree in principle, yet not enough to initiate a process they don’t see making much of a difference. I would encourage you to summarize points you thought, based on your plan going in, would resonate with the buyer, especially if during the meeting they in fact did. Do this with the prospect, quick concise, closing off each point. Often this will get things back on track. But if not, drop it and move on.
Don’t forget, leads are recyclable, you can always go back. But if you hang on for dear life, you’re just going to waste time, emotion and piss off the prospect risking future opportunities. Better to move on and reenergize and get back on the winning track. Sometimes your personal next step needs to be stepping on to the next prospect.