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    Qualify leads: 8 reasons to walk away

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    Every sales person knows how difficult it can be to walk away from a deal. That’s why 25% of all deals end up in “no decision”. So, how do you know when to walk away?

    The dreadful ”no decision” is the primary reason specified for not winning a forecasted deal. As much as 25% of all opportunities meet this fate, according to a study made by CSO Insights. This means that one-fourth of the customers in your pipeline will decide to stick with the status quo. A lot of time can be wasted on sales projects that have lost momentum, or where we have very low chances of winning. The question becomes: how do we quickly find out which opportunities are at risk and spend our time on deals more likely to be won? I’ll go through a few indications that serve as warning signs when qualifying leads and opportunities. 

     Qualify leads: When is the time to let your lead go?

    1. Customer-fit – can you delight the customer and be profitable?

    If you’re getting inbound leads, you need to be firm about where to spend your precious sales time. You need to know for which clients you can provide value and become profitable in the process of doing so.

    Respectfully decline engaging with clients that don’t match the profile you can serve with current offerings. Or consider creating new offerings.

    2. Are you being used as quotation fodder?

    What are the triggers that caused them to shine a light on the problem or outcome you can help them with? Are you entering their process early or being used as ”quotation fodder” to drive down the price of a preferred supplier? If you don’t ask, you won’t know.

    If all they want is your price and don’t engage in dialogue, walk away.

    3. Can you facilitate their buying process?

    In complex b2b sales, the buyer’s internal process will determine the length of your sales cycle. It’s also likely that the buyer does not purchase similar products very often and does not have a formal process to follow. Hence your sales process should really be a way to facilitate their buying process. Ask questions to understand what will need to happen before they can chose you or another vendor.

    If they won’t share this information, or help you to assist their buying process, you’ll be in for a long sales cycle that is highly likely to end in a no decision.

    4. Can you find out about their deadlines?

    Asking about deadlines is a good way to find out about your client’s priorities.

    If they can’t formulate when they want the problem solved, or reach the desired outcome, for which they need your help, the sales project can sit in your pipeline forever.

    5. Are you getting access to the right stakeholders?

    When your solution changes the status quo, there will be more than one stakeholder involved. It’s a mistake to believe that winning the trust of one person will be sufficient, as that’s very rare in a complex b2b deal. The more intrusive your solution will be to the buyer, the more people need to trust that you are the best choice and that the change process will be smooth.

    If you’re only spending your time with one person, you better figure out a way to get to the others or see your chances of winning the deal diminish.

    6. Are you underestimating the power of the status quo?

    Often, your client has an inferior solution to yours in place already. However, even though it’s inferior, it’s in place and it’s being used. People have grown used to the work-around and may feel comfortable with it, even though it’s not perfect. ”You know what you’ve got, but not what you’re going to get” is a saying that comes to mind. It’s up to you to prove that changing is for the benefit of everyone using the product or service.

    Initiate a sales project only if you determine that they are open to change, or nurture them until they are ready.

    7. Is doing nothing costly but they still won’t change?

    Use questioning techniques from methodologies like SPIN to drill down to the consequences of doing nothing. A problem taking 5 minutes every hour can escalate to a million dollar problem and the risk of losing one’s job. If their motivation to make a change isn’t triggered even when seeing serious consequences, they have bigger problems to attend to first and your chances to win the deal are low.

    Depending on their response to a question like "what happens if you do nothing?", consider walking away.

    8. How strong is the competition?

    Apart from your number one competitor – the status quo – which other competitors are involved in winning the trust of your client? Make sure that you know your strengths and weaknesses inside and out and position yourself in the best possible way.

    When you have several deals of equal value to pursue, pick the one where competition is weak.


    By getting your qualification right, your sales pipeline momentum and win-rates will increase and your forecasts will become more accurate. More sales people will reach their quota and you’ll create a better sales culture.

    Make sure that you don’t populate your pipeline with poorly qualified leads by introducing pre-qualification and continue to qualify throughout the sales process. Filter out quickly and stay on top of the health of every opportunity.

    Download this whitepaper to learn what successful sales teams do differently

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    What other criteria do you use to qualify deals? Please share your thoughts!


    George Brontén
    Published February 18, 2015
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn