Know When to Walk Away
Don Buttrey is the president of Sales Professional Training Inc., a company that offers in-depth skill development for sales professionals and sales support. He has trained thousands of salespeople over 25 years and clearly understands the selling environment of equipment dealers and manufacturers. His curriculum is comprehensive and proven! Don is also the author of “The SELL Process”, a foundational how-to book on effective sales interactions. Today, he answers another tough question: how do you know when to walk away?
Don can be reached at (937) 427-1717 or email email@example.com. Check out this website link salesprofessionaltraining.com for more information – or to purchase online sales training.
QUESTION 4: If a customer is not honest with you on a regular basis and they continue to buy on price only. . . at what point do we walk away from the relationship?
Don Buttrey: First let me establish the fact that there can be a time to walk away from an account. However, it must be decided strategically with input from the sales professional, sales managers, and appropriate leaders. Many things should be considered: the market situation/economy, other opportunities you have available, inventory levels, how this account might distract us or use up resources we could spend on better business, strength of the competition, if we want the competition to get the volume, etc.
Tactically, before doing anything radical, the salesperson must pre-call plan and set up a good face-to-face with the customer and ask some well-crafted open-ended questions to verify the real situation versus just what it appears on the surface. Ask the hard questions and face the honesty issue head on –but do not argue or accuse. Just get the customer talking and be firm in waiting for answers instead of filling any silence with a bunch of rhetoric or nervous chatter. Ask and shut up. If you have assessed the risk and decided it was worth stirring up the hornet’s nest–ask some blunt, to-the-point questions (but do it in a non-emotional, non-threatening way).
Have a minimum objective for the success of the call based on your decisive strategy. If the customer will not agree to that objective, or refuses to talk and interact honestly (after given plenty of chances to do so), then it may be a good management decision to walk away and not waste your time. Walk from this deal and run to others (prospecting) —-BUT– do not burn any bridges –just back off your sales effort in that account. Mark your calendar for 6-12 months to check in again. Things change. Buyers quit or leave. New owners and leaders come into place.
Note: If, in your strategy, you know there is someone over their head that may be a better contact – devise a plan to call on them. If you decided that you will walk anyway – this may be a good option. Just do it carefully — and you better pre-plan what you will say and how you will say it! Here is another idea: Sometimes having your company’s sales manager (or even the president) call on the customer’s top management is a great way to go over their head without it looking like the salesperson is out of bounds. This will confirm whether it is one person who is not honest –or if it is the culture or way of doing business for the entire customer organization.