Picture this. You’re a senior executive looking for your next job. You’ve been interviewing with several excellent companies. Then one of them offers you a job. The money looks good. The company has the right pedigree. The job is interesting. What’s the problem? You’re wondering if you should say “yes” to this particular offer. Should you continue to interview? Would a better offer come in the future? When is it time to stop? Knowing when to stop selling is a hidden dilemma for salespeople, too. Don’t let this dilemma get you off course in your selling.
It’s harder than you think to stop selling.
Knowing when to stop calling on a prospect is a challenge. Think about your own prospecting process. You probably have a list of customers to whom you are trying to sell. You are looking for customers in a particular industry, stage of growth, size of staff, or other specific criteria. Your prospects need to meet these criteria in order for them to be on your prospecting list. You’ve been calling on them for months without a sale. Have you even considered when you should stop?
The sales process is a lot like the investing process in terms of knowing when to stop. Individual and professional investors alike struggle with selling stocks. Berkeley finance professor Terrance Odean found that investors are at least 50% more likely to sell their winners than their losers. Letting go is hard to do.
Here’s how to know when to stop selling.
There is a process that will help you let go. Often people forget what they were first looking for and what were their major criteria. They overrun the target because they didn’t know they got there. If you’re selling without results, reexamine your prospect’s criteria for making your list of prospects. Are they really a fit? If not, let go.
Remember that perfection is not part of the sales process. Just like a job choice, selling isn’t a perfect process. You’ll never get 100 percent of what you want. In a job, that means there’s no perfect job. In sales, there are no perfect prospects. Is your prospect only 20 percent of what you’re looking for or 90 percent of what you’re looking for? Let go of the former. Do something different with the latter.
Get help if you need it.
You may need help to make these decisions. That is a role for an outsider who is not prejudiced by all the details or emotionally involved in the outcome. Bouncing ideas off someone you trust is needed now. Job seekers often have an objective peer or friend to talk with. That person can give an unvarnished opinion to give you confidence to go for the new job, if that’s what you need. For salespeople, another successful sales professional could be your advisor and help you review your list of prospects to see who needs to be removed.
It is reported that Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor, once said, “Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill.” He certainly knew how to start a good snowball. In sales, starting with good prospects is as important as that wet snow. But in sales, you also had better know when to stop pursuing the low yield customers.