I Fired a Prospect Today. Yep.

It may seem completely counter-intuitive. I’m the sales rep.  I’m supposedly the person who never met a deal he didn’t like. The one who will drag our company’s resources through any unqualified pursuit to the bitter end – all the while golfing, wining, dining and fretting away the company’s resources – or so legend has it.

So why did I do it? Why did I let this deal go?

1. It was the right thing to do for the prospect: Our stepping back was the most transparent and powerful message my firm could send the client. We know the right way to do this engagement, and we are not going to compromise your success or our reputation by short-cutting.

2. It was good for my business. Here’s a question: What is the WORST hand in poker? The SECOND best hand. That’s the player who stays in, doubles down, fattens up the pot (drives up their cost of sale)…and then loses.

3. It will free up precious time. Let’s face it, time is more valuable than money at this point in your life. You only have capacity for x number of deals per year. This client will take all the time and information that you offer, but they are not going to buy at your solution/scope/price. What is the opportunity cost to you for not spending that time on other opportunties?

4. It was good for my psyche. Training/re-training yourself that not every deal is a good deal is an important lesson to learn and reinforce. Nothing is more powerful than the will to walk away. It’s good for your sense of self as well as your ability to offer more objective counsel to your customers going forward.

So (never thought I’d say this…) what are you waiting for? Go out and fire a prospect today!


Before Proposing – ALWAYS Ask for a Meeting

Here is a little pre-Thanksgiving humor for my sales compatriots out there courtesy of Scott Adams.  If you’ve ever been in this sales situation, you’ll get a kick out of the Dilbert strip above.  Scott has a great site by the way, where you can buy relevant strips for your marketing efforts.

So what’s the lesson here? I have given up on responding to vague and/or rushed RFPs, and I would recommend you do the same.  If the prospective client is not willing to sit down with you and work through some basic questions that will allow you to craft a response both more accurate and relevant to them, you’re probably column-fodder on their spreadsheet anyway.

I can’t tell you how many times early in my career I took valuable time (in some cases all night) responding to a long RFP for which I knew in the pit of my stomach we had no prayer of winning.

Now, asking for the “pre-proposal discovery meeting” has become a valuable step in qualifying the opportunity before burning the resources to craft a solution and response.

Don’t let your Pointy Haired Boss make you work all day Thursday unless you have had your meeting.

Happy Thanksgiving!