📄 Why you should take some deals off the table
A few years ago, I had a great meeting with a new buyer: We had shared values, he was coachable, he liked my approach - it was a perfect fit. And he had the kind of problem that I solve, and the budget to pay for solving it as well.
When he asked what the next step was, I suggested an initial paid consulting session, and after that we could figure out how to move forward on a larger, longer-term project.
Told me: “Yes, sounds good!”
But then he said: “I’ll need to let you know tomorrow - I already have a call with another consultant scheduled for the morning, and I want to give the guy a chance”.
A warning sign, but not unfair nor unreasonable.
Besides, this prospect was a highly conscientious person, so it made sense to give him space to reflect and do due diligence, if that's how he likes to get to a decision.
The next day though, there was no news. A bigger warning sign, because when people say they'll do something and then they don't, something, somewhere, is off in the relationship or the deal.
The day after that, a message:
“I’m going to let you know on Monday. That guy wasn’t the right fit, but somebody else showed up that I want to talk to first”.
Ah. That's not a warning sign: it's a kill-sign.
I mean, I still wanted to work with the guy, but:
I don’t want to be on somebody else's hook, and I don’t want to be someone's candidate in some sort of bidding war. And if this buyer wants to look around my competition to see if there's someone better than me out there: I say let him.
So I told him:
“Okay, no problem. Then let’s take the deal off the table. Happy to talk again in the future, but I can only work with people if it’s a ‘hell-yes’ from both sides. If you’re undecided and it’s not hell-yes, we’ll have to call it a no".
Maybe you think it’s dumb, to kill a potential deal.
After all, the guy had big plans and he had the money to pay for them. He could have become a lucrative, long-term client.
But what would you prefer:
Engaging in a long, protracted conversation where someone isn’t able to make up their mind, and you have to try to convince them, and you keep getting pushed around, waiting for them to figure themselves out despite the fact that you're eminently capable and qualified to solve their problem?
Or would you rather be talking to prospects who are on-board, certain, convinced, ready to get started - and get started *with you?
I prefer the latter any day of the week, and besides: like I'm fond of saying: It’s not your job to convince anyone.
When a buyer engages with you, and you present your “This is what I can do. This is how it works. This is the price”...
Then it’s their job to convince themselves that your offer is right, for them. Or that it's not right, as the case may be. Because then they can let you know it's a 'no', and you can move on to other leads.
When a buyer can't decide and you end up in limbo, either ask them for a no, or simply - politely - take the deal off table.
Remember: there’s countless buyers out there, but there's only one you, and that means that you are the prize.
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