Know when there isn't a good fit, let go, and be okay with it
It is funny over the years I have changed my sales strategy in a lot of different ways. One of the mistakes I often made was chasing business, worse unsuited business.
I think this was partly due to being young, or being desperate, or being a crappy salesman. What I have found though is there is another reason that is often overlooked. The main reason for chasing business that is not a good fit is because you have no vision for what your future looks like.
Let me give you an example. So for the last 2-3 years, I have been working on my company. I have a very clear vision and where I am taking my company. I am going through huge changes and when I am done my company will not even look like the same animal as it was when I started it. So how does this affect sales and chasing the wrong prospects?
Well, if you do not understand where you are going and who you want to be when you grow up, then you probably have no real idea what type of client is going to help get you there and more importantly the problems you really solve for your clients. This means you take on pretty much anything that comes across your plate.
So a few months back I got a referral. When I spoke with the guy he had a crunch project he needed help with right away. In our conversation I got the notion that there was other work closer to the type work we do. So to help out a friend and to help out the prospect in a crunch, I took the job.
The work turned out pretty great for what it was and I am sure it really helped the client in their time of need. A few weeks later his partner called me and said they needed help rebranding and building a website. Okay, so this is getting closer to my space. Although after talking to them I realized they had no interest in doing the project right and didn't want to take the time to focus on doing things correctly. They really just wanted a Yes Man that they could tell what to do.
So after some pressure, I got them some pricing, (first mistake never give out pricing/proposals this is for weak salespeople) and in this process I realized this company would never be a great client. Mostly because they felt like they knew sales, marketing, and branding better than me. That's cool you are allowed to have your own opinion.
Now here's the deal. In the several months that this whole situation took place, I had some big breakthroughs that are pushing my company in a great and exciting new direction. Taking on bad fitting clients will just hold us back and I know this. Because of this, after a few weeks of being put on hold the client called me and gave me a sob story about how hiring someone internal is going to be better, and oh besides I was a sales leader in a previous life, and we found the girl that built our current website, and she is going to be able to run with things, blah, blah, blah.
The point is this, I said… "Sounds like you have it all figured out. I wish you the best of luck" (and I sincerely meant it). Then he said… "uh yeah I think it will be best for us, but don't worry you offer a great solution" (wait a minute, is that a Need For Approval showing up? - this is a really bad weakness of sales people, and he has it). "When we get into things and it gets more advanced there is a good chance we will need some help."
Here is the thing if it isn't the right fit, it isn't the right fit. In this case I knew it wasn't a good fit, I made some early mistakes, but realized it wasn't going to be a good fit, so I let it go happily. My future is bright and I have many new opportunities in the works. I do not want to get hung up with these people that really have very little understanding of professional sales, no understanding of marketing/branding, and to be honest maybe a little challenged when it comes to managing and controlling their business. They are fairly successful and I am not knocking him or the company. I am however seeing cracks in the exterior, that one day will grow and cause real problems.
So all I can do in any sales call is ask 3 questions:
- Do you think I understand your problem?
- Do you think I am an expert at solving those kind of problems?
- and lastly - Do you want my help?
To some degree they think I do not understand their problems or that I understand them TOO well, but they really do not want help fixing the root which could include people issues and will be too uncomfortable to talk about. I feel like they firmly knew and actually did say, that I knew my stuff. But because there was a concern on question 1, of course they didn't WANT my help. They may NEED it, but it doesn't matter, they have to WANT it, and WANT IT BADLY or they will never change and do all the hard work it takes to reach the level of success we bring to clients.
So tying this together… this client wanted half of 1 of the 3 main things we offer. And, the lower half of that 1. So it felt really good letting them go. Then saying… NEXT!
If clients do not fit and are not buying exactly what you are offering, and you know there are a ton of customers chomping at the bit to get your offering, than why bother getting upset when a prospect that doesn't get it and doesn't go with you.
I learned a few lessons, got a blog article, and hopefully helped some of you, so this experience was a win for me. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please add a comment below.
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