If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you also know that I’m ALL about the follow-up. After all, it’s no secret that even with ideal clients, sometimes it takes up to 5 conversations to get the green light on a sale.
I’m also all about qualifying leads. Knowing who you want to work with, who you don’t, and what you will and won’t tolerate is paramount, especially for all you solopreneurs out there.
But then there’s the flip side. That moment when you know that a possible client is a likely disaster, and it’s best to move on before you get in too deep.
That’s right–even though I’m the queen of “professionally annoying” and I have that follow-up system down to a science, I do recognize that sometimes the best course of action is NO action.
In other words, sometimes it’s wise NOT to follow up with a lead.
A couple of months ago, I was talking to a pair of potential clients that turned out to have less potential than I hoped. These clients ran a mid size accounting firm, yet were flat broke. They were desperate to improve their profitability, and they looked like a perfect fit for the high-level CPA program we offered. (A perfect fit on paper, at least…)
But when we talked to them, something came up that disqualified them completely.
They were hung up on price. They kept haggling for discounts. None of which we were offering. I knew that they needed our help. But all they wanted to discuss was what this was going to cost them.
They didn’t see our VALUE. Which meant that they were NOT ready for prime time. And following up would’ve been a lost cause.
So we wished them the best, let them go, and moved on. And honestly, I didn’t think about them very much over the next couple of months…
Then something fascinating happened this past week. Out of the blue, I heard from them again. They were still interested in our program. Asking about discounts again, not surprisingly. But there they were nonetheless.
I had to laugh. I never bothered to follow up with them. We’d already written them off. And yet here they were again, looking for our help. I guess what they had been doing since we last spoke hadn’t been working. Maybe they decided that they were ready for real change in their business.
But here’s what’s interesting: it was the client reaching out this time. It had nothing to do with me. Because after our initial conversations, I knew that continuing to build that relationship would’ve been a waste of my time, energy, and sanity.
Here’s a newsflash for you: there are leads that are not good for you OR your business. Not every prospect is a dream client.
Following up takes time. It takes patience. In the long run, it might even cost you money. And even though many quality clients require a little bit more courtship time before they take the plunge, not everyone is worth space in your “little black book” (of business follow-ups, that is!).
There are times when following up will only wear you out. And sometimes it’s better to leave the ball in the prospect’s court. Indefinitely.
How do you know if a client isn’t ready now (and won’t likely be any time soon)? I’m going to share the top 4 signs that it’s time to cut your losses, wish them the best, and move along.
Sign #1: Your Client Can’t Answer The Key Questions. It might sound obvious, but if a client doesn’t know what they want, helping them is going to be a LOT harder. If they actually DO know what they want but are non-committal on taking action, that’s another issue too. And if they’re not even the one with the buying power, it’s pretty clear how far you’ll get with that deal!
So before you decide to add them to the follow up loop, make sure that your prospective client can answer these simple questions…
- Do they have a clear vision of what success looks like for them?
- Do they make the call for when it’s time to buy (and not someone else)?
- Do they feel the need to take action NOW (or soon)?
If they give you an “IDK” on any of the above, it’s best to table the discussion for the time being. Because unless something changes for them, follow up is going to be futile.
Sign #2: They can’t afford you (for real). There are people who will move heaven and earth to work with you, money worries or not. They are the ones who flat-out tell you that they can’t commit financially right now. If that’s what they’re saying, take them at their word.
It really might not be the right time for them. Maybe they’re just not that serious. Both are legit reasons to put an indefinite hold on a prospect.
Sign #3: They don’t see your value. Sometimes, you can tell if you’re being overlooked. Or not seen at all. And if someone doesn’t get how valuable your services are, they’re probably not going to get out their credit card, no matter how many times you ask.
What are some of the cues that your worth is going right over their heads?
- They keep asking for discounts (instead of knowing the worth of your offer already)
- They’re only asking about the price (rather than focusing on the solution)
- They’re not moved by your testimonials (even though they prove you’re for real)
- They don’t think they need you (in which case the convo is already over!)
Some buyers will never see your full value, worth, or potential. And if they don’t, it has nothing to do with you. Just remember to always see your worth for yourself, and let the doubters go.
(Need a refresher on how to know your value and your worth? Check out Coffee Is For Closers Episode 8 and remind yourself how to OWN your awesomeness without apology!)
Sign #4: You And The Client Are Simply A Bad Fit. Sometimes, you just know it’s not going to work. Maybe you know that you’re not the right person for the job. Or it could be that they push a non-negotiable boundary. Perhaps you simply don’t “vibe” with them. And that’s OK.
But if something in you just knows that it isn’t going to work, it’s a good time to respectfully decline any further conversation. Follow up included.
In your business, you’re going to invest a lot of money. But you’re also going to be putting in a lot of TIME, too. And while follow up is a vital part of the sales process, it’s also a big time commitment.
And unlike money, time is something that you can’t earn back once it’s gone. So make sure you’re using your time currency on the best bets possible.
Sure, you can’t see all the outcomes with 20/20 vision. Even a client that looks like a perfect match could be a total bust. But the more you know about potential tripwires, the more you can pick and choose not only who you make an offer to, but who you let into your long-term inner circle.
It’s ALWAYS ok to step away from a client or a sale that isn’t the right fit. If you nip a time-suck prospect in the bud before investing endless hours in emails, calls, and hope, it’ll do even more than save you time. It’ll boost your value and your credibility.
Not sure if that prospect is worth a second sales call? My new quiz will help you sort it out! Find out if you should keep following up or cut your losses. Grab “Should You Follow Up Or Move ON? A Quiz To See If Your Prospect Is Ready For YOU” now!