Time-management is one of the trickiest aspects of sales. On any given day, salespeople must decide where to focus their attention, and given the limited number of hours we all have to work with, spending time on something that won’t move the needle can be one of the most counterproductive things a professional seller can do.
This becomes even more challenging when we’re spending time working with (or chasing) a prospect. While it might seem like this is always time that’s well-spent, in reality, not all prospects are created equal, and time spent with the wrong ones can be just as wasteful as spending the day scrolling through social media, despite what me might tell ourselves.
So how does one tell whether they’re wasting time with the wrong prospects? Here are 5 signs that indicate it might be time to move on:
1. There’s no sense of urgency from the prospect
Try as we might, sometimes a prospect won’t have (or adopt) a sense of urgency, no matter how many limited time offers or impending price hikes we throw their way. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done in this situation, and a prospect who has no incentive to move forward will usually see things through at their own pace. When this happens, the best thing to do is to set a calendar reminder and to try to stay in touch, but to focus your immediate energies elsewhere.
2. The prospect goes completely dark
It’s certainly not uncommon for a prospect to disappear off the map, and salespeople are trained to stay persistent, following-up and putting in as much effort as possible until we get to a firm “no.” That being said, at some point you need to cut your losses and spend your time on people who are willing to respond to calls and emails, rather than on chasing ghosts. If you haven’t heard from a prospect in weeks, send them one final “break-up” email and move on. If you hear back, great! If not, you did everything you could.
3. The product isn’t a good fit
Sometimes, the solution you’re selling simply is not a great fit for your prospect. It’s important to recognize this fact and to accept it, rather than continuing to try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Walking away from a potential deal is difficult, but not as difficult as the problems that will arise after the sale if your product doesn’t deliver what the prospect is looking for. If you’re not offering a solution to the prospect’s problem, cut your losses and move on — you’ll both be better off.
4. It’s clear the prospect doesn’t have the budget
You can usually tell fairly quickly whether your prospects can afford your product or not, and, as demoralizing as it might be, once you understand that the budget simply isn’t there, your best bet is to part ways. Despite what some self-described sales “gurus” might tell you, most people can’t be talked into buying something they can’t afford, nor should they. It’s a simple matter of numbers; some objections can’t be overcome, so if the budget’s not there, don’t be afraid to move on.
5. The prospect asks you to do something you’re uncomfortable with
While this doesn’t happen as often as the other signs on this list, when a prospect asks you to do something unethical, or illegal, you should run, not walk, away from the deal. Naturally, prospects are looking for the best deal possible, and some are willing to push the envelope in what they expect you to do. But once these demands cross the line into something that makes you uncomfortable, it’s perfectly okay to politely decline and walk away. Not only will you be protecting yourself from getting into trouble, you’ll also feel much better about yourself.