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How do you know when it's time to call it quits on a prospect?

This question is in regards to prospects you've spoken with.


I hear mixed opinions on this ranging from "I just get a certain feeling" to "never quit, everything is closeable."


When do you personally decide to pull the "Aight I'mma head out" Spongebob meme and move on?

🔎 Prospecting
29
CadenceCombat
Tycoon
+13
Account Executive
For me, it’s easy:

If your prospect / champion becomes evasive and you can’t seem to find any alignment on how to move forward or there’s just zero execution behind it... That’s when you stop trying to get a ‘yes’ and you actively ‘go for no’. Otherwise, some prospects will just string you along forever. 

But don’t assume the ‘no’. Get a real ‘no’.
Enrossie
Good Citizen
Sales Development Rep
"Go for No" would make a great motivation poster!
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
Kahluapons
I like this. So if a prospect is clearly avoiding you/wishy washy/is reluctant to do their part in making the project happen, that kind of thing?

How do you "go for no?"
CadenceCombat
Tycoon
+13
Account Executive
This is going to seem counterintuitive but you bring up the reasons why the solution may not be a fit to try and understand what the exact blocker is... this can tie into a whole other discussion about objection handling as well... but without going there...

If the only thing you can seem to find alignment on are the blockers impeding the process and not on how to overcome those blockers... Then you already have your answer... 

Just confirm it with something like “Based on how things have progressed so far, it would lead me to believe that maybe XYZ is a bigger blocker than expected. Would you agree or is there something else that is preventing us from moving forward?”

If it’s just a timing thing, schedule a reignite but don’t just do that to avoid the ‘no’.
Show 6 more replies
SADNESSLieutenant
Arsonist
+8
SDR
exactly

SaaSInc
Senior Enterprise Account Executive
100%
MSPSales
Notorious Answer
+5
Account Executive
When they ask me to take them off my call list. 

I'm being serious - even when I close loss an opportunity I set a task to follow up next month or three months w.e time frame makes sense. If nothing has changed I setup another task etc.. 

For reference I sell to a niche and there isn't endless amount of prospects to reach out to 
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
Kahluapons
That's fair. I wouldn't ever totally give up on a prospect either (with the exception of extremely problematic leadership/zero need for our product ever.) I always circle back, be it within weeks, months, or a year.
deviantzen
WR Lieutenant
+9
Consultant
Beware of the "sunk cost fallacy", the harder you worked and more excited you are about a potential deal, the more difficult it will be to walk away.

https://www.lesswrong.com/tag/sunk-cost-fallacy

Something that's helped me is being honest with myself and an outside non-invested perspective (manager, teammate, friend, who knows the game but not personally invested).
CadenceCombat
Tycoon
+13
Account Executive
This! @salesrapper agreed re:sunk cost fallacy.
Ba
Bandido
Politicker
+3
Client Director
This is spot on.  Thanks for sharing.
sahil
Notorious Answer
+13
Deepak Chopra of Sales
Great question @funcoupons - and it's a hard balance. There are plenty of times I've "given up" on a prospect... then sent 1 more email on a lazy Friday... and got a reply / closed the deal!

Also many more times I've chased the dragon for eons and never got anywhere.

Think the answer depends on what the rest of your pipe looks like. If you've got lots happening, keep it focused on those who are responsive. If you're thirsty... well... drink up. :)
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
Kahluapons
Thanks for the insight, this makes sense! 
CaneWolf
Politicker
+12
Call me what you want, just sign the damn contract
Hence the breakup email still being worth sending. It's not ideal but it can reverse course.
Stringer
Arsonist
+8
SDR
I never do, but I also don't spend "time" on them. I'll just interact with their LinkedIn post or tag them in something relevant, maybe an email if I see something I know they would appreciate, but I'm not "actively" trying to close them. More-so just standing on the sidewalk outside their house selling to people driving by, and if they want to come out and talk, they know where to find me.
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
Kahluapons
Thanks for the insight! That's an interesting way of keeping on a prospect's radar without putting too much effort into it.
BeeDeeAr
Good Citizen
BDR
Sometimes you just have to ask. When they become evasive you have to give them a window for them to tell you "NO", for example asking them if what you are saying is valuable for them.  Sometimes they feel that if they say no it's worse than not saying anything and guess what... THAT'S WORSE. 
fuzzy
Notable Contributor
+21
CMO (Chief Meme Officer)
This is why we build "prospect fatigue" into our cadences. Letting shit marinate from 5-15 days can make a big difference. 
Haast
Notorious Answer
+9
Account Executive
Always send a "break-up" email. Either they'll come back and be like yep go ahead and close out the engagement, or no wait we still do want to pursue. 
trainer
Opinionated
+2
Sales Trainer
I think they are great contributions below and 'go for no' is right. If this is purely from an outreach perspective, and you're struggling to get someone to take a call try to change up what you're doing - be human, try to crack a joke, send emails purely to 'deposit' valuable insight without going for the meeting and break up your outreach cadence so the prospect doesn't feel like in every interaction you're closing them.
Mikey
Opinionated
+2
Senior Regional Director
Agreed that this is hard to determine! I think that as skilled sales people, this is learned over time. When I first started, I gave 100% of my energy to anyone that seemed even the slightest bit interested in what i was selling. Now that I've been doing this for over 7 years, I can tell by tone, phrases, and particular questions asked that someone isn't truly interested and can ask more upfront/frank questions to confirm. I don't think this question is so black and white.
ApolloCreed
Good Citizen
Account Executive
Usually only if they directly tell me "no". If I don't ever get that direct feedback after countless attempts, I'll just create a task in the CRM or follow the account to get notified if they ever revisit the website. I'll get pretty creative sending vidyards, customer examples, and message their surrounding team on LinkedIn, especially if I'm trying to break into a larger, colder account.
Ba
Bandido
Politicker
+3
Client Director
With an existing opportunity, "when you know, you know" is cliché but we all get that feeling in our guts due to losing momentum in the sales cycle...You have to think of ways to pull that prospect back in and try to reignite that urgency.  Sometimes timing may be off, other times they may be afraid to "break up" with us (A lot of people that aren't in sales hate confrontation).  In the long run we must win fast but lose faster to juggle that fine line of opportunity cost. 

Even with cold prospects BDRs/SDRs may be reaching out to with no response we have to think of it as outbound marketing for your company.  Although you didn't get a response doesn't mean we should quit...who knows next time an internal conversation happens and a prospect says "I remember someone reaching out to me about xyz"....the same could be said with people you have already spoken to and hopefully you did a good enough job in that initial discussion to have them return to you when the need is actually there, and they are willing to act upon it.
In
InspirationalShining
WR Officer
+7
Business Development
According to badass hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, a great way to get a response is with the subject line: "Did you give up on this initiative?"  

It plays to the fact that people don't like to be seen as "giving up" on anything, so it's likely to elicit a response -- either good or bad. If you're like me, you'd rather hear no, than nothing at all.
rekled
Opinionated
+2
Strategic Account Executive
100% agree. This tactic has worked well on prospects that have ghosted me. I always include something along the lines of "our solution is not for everyone, so if you have gone in a different direction, I understand. But please do let me know so I can close our file".  
freckle
Partner Sales Manager
It’s a bit different in every market, there are cultural differences that dictate how to run a process. Where I am, I would “touch” the prospect 6 times: email, call, email, call, email then add on LinkedIn. I find anything more than this and they just get angry. 
I found the LinkedIn add worked to get some sort of no from the client but generally if they’re not responding after 5 times they’re not going to respond. 
SalesEveryday
Praised Answer
+1
Account Executive
I feel like it’s time to call it quits when you feel like they wouldn’t find value from your product. 

I’ve had prospects tell me no multiple times and I just felt like they truly didn’t understand/see the company’s value so it was up to me to describe it better / find a new entrance. 
310_2_503
Good Citizen
Account Executive
Assuming it’s a good enough fit worth pursuing, give them a reason to want to talk to you. Find a way to give them value when you reach out, not just “check in” or “get an update.”

  Also, if you use email automation, pay attention to who is opening your emails and when. If you see a silent prospect open up your weekly feeler, pick up the phone and call them right away. 
GigabitChaser
Contributor
Sr Account Executive
If they are worth it never but there are some "worth it accounts" that I just don't focus on because I don't have time. 
JuicyKlay
Politicker
+9
AM
When they ghost you for months and you reach out to every possible contact on ever channel, it’s time to call it quits. 
SADNESSLieutenant
Arsonist
+8
SDR
my opinion be like: I never quit on my prospects #UNSUBSCRIBE #ANEDUCATIONALOVERVIEW

If they are unresponsive I re-strategize, and re-prioritize. usually, B2B is in a few stages of interest, like being ready to buy, not ready, and nowhere close, and then making your messaging more or less informational/educational based as opposed to feature/hard-selling-based 

No, but if they are unresponsive, get to the no, I usually don't 'quit' I usually get to the bottom of what is going on, and restrategize, like if they have an in-house solution, great, let's learn about that is there anything that can be improved?. If they are working w a competitor, great, lets do a side-by-side comparison if they really are the best option it will solidify that for you or if they aren't it will be better. or reschedule for 6 months before renewal bc we have seen 'xyz' & it could be helpful at least to see what the latest advancements in this space are to stay up-to-date.

Always challenging the prospect to help you not waste their time is helpful for me, and seems to get a response.

Something in a VM or email like, 'hey it's bob calling, wanted to follow up on my last email, I got no response and wanted to see what you thought, if you think it's a good fit or not, as I'm sure you don't want me filling up your inbox with useless information.' 


Sa
SadnessEngine
Old School Bravo
Business Delevopment Manager
When they won't take any actionable next steps for their asks. 
DaveyDimes
Acclaimed Answer
+2
Account Executive
I would say you never have to fully give up. As your communication starts to fade or if they go silent just adjust your outreach.

Depending on the size of the organization you can start to reach out to other potential champions. See if you can generate other internal interests that will drive outreach from your original champion.

In short, never give up, just adjust the amount of time given to the account.
ConstantineJohns
Old School Bravo
+1
Senior Enterprise Relationship Partner
once they are no longer with the company... then you find where they transferred and keep calling. 

A sale is made every time a call is made, you selling them or them selling you on why they can't buy. You make the move!
PeterSwan
Opinionated
+2
Business Development Manager
Until he opt-out.
bartonmyfrench
Contributor
Account Executive II
Good opportunity to negative sell them. If they have a solution you are trying to unseat and not a lot of progress is being made but they are still engaging ask them why and why not just stick with the current solution. Negative selling is a great way to either fire a prospect or reframe the problems we are actually solving and partner in earnest to sell internally. 
Co
Coldcallingisfun
National Sales Rep
When I start working with a customer I walk through the timeline once they have requested a quote from our initial meeting to going over the proposal. From there I will get a timeline from them and I make my agreement valid based of their timeline. Due to the nature of my industry, labor rates change, material cost change so I can only have my proposal be good for a certain amount of time, so I make it based on the timeline provided by the customer. From their I will either call or send follow up emails based of the timeline, in the final week of the timeline if I have not heard anything back I will let them know I will be closing the quote. If there is no response from there I typically move on from there. 
SlanginSaaS
Opinionated
+1
Strategic Account Executive
For me, if they are kicking the tires and not serious, I will place them in a cadence and touch base every other month with a new update, webinar, etc. Unless they have an approved initiative, timeline and budget, I don't want to waste my time. I don't want to completely ghost them either though as eventually they may be a real buyer, which is why I put them in a bi-monthly cadence to touch base and stay somewhat top of mind for them. 

If you're asking in regards to since connecting with them and now they are ghosting you, I would let them go. Don't want your time or stress over them not getting back to you. In 3 months you can ping them saying, it'd seemed that when we connect in January we may have been too early to the punch, let's schedule time to share updates on each end. 
dunndraper
Old School Bravo
National Account Manager
When you’ve been served a restraining order.  In all seriousness, I usually stop and find another way in once they are unresponsive.
betweenworldandme
Good Citizen
Enterprise Account Executive
When they actually say 'no'. I think most buyers (atleast in the b2b space) are not always in a place to formally deny because things may not have moved internally. You can schedule weekly/biweekly mails that are informative and can act as nudges to keep you in their mind and it's not all about 'you' and your deal closure then. Quite frankly, most prospects who are decision makers are speaking to various vendors at any given point in time apart from their own work. So any number of things can make them unresponsive. Till they've actually considered everything and gotten back to you with a 'no' decision, things may still look up. When they actually do say no, you can always ask a parting favour in either getting feedback or a referral to someone who would find your product useful. 
curiouspuppy
BDR
At the beginning of each meeting, setting up an agenda and the end goal, so that way at the end of the session both will have a sense of whether or not to move to the 'next step' ... thoughts?

*I am a BDR and disco call /closing isn't my responsibility, but that's what I would probably try if I move up to such roles
wHaTyAgOtCoOkInG
Catalyst
+4
Account Executive
As early on as possible. If the initial meeting is a dud, tell them its a no go. Move on, focus on what you can close.
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