Does this sound familiar to you? There is a potential customer you have been chasing for a long time. Now, this guy seems to be a pretty good guy because he is always willing to see you, always happy to have a cup of joe with you, and more than happy to go out to lunch with you, especially if you go to his favorite sushi place. He is always very accommodating, always willing to take your calls and meet with you. So, it at least looks good on your call report when you can say you’ve visited with and spent time with him, especially since he buys about $10 million worth of boards a year. He has promised he is going to buy from you as soon as you have MIL-PRF-31032. So, you spend a lot of time persuading your company to go through the process to get its MIL-PRF-31032 qualification. And guess what? They agree because many salespeople have told them they need this to grow their business.
After months of hard work and expense by your company, you go back to your friend, that sushi eating buyer, and proudly show him a copy of your official MIL-PRF-31032 qualification. He congratulates you profusely and says that he has some news but it’s about lunch time so why don’t you guys head over to the sushi place and talk about it. That sounds good to you so you hop in your Prius and head over to eat your lunch, hoping the news he has is good.
Unfortunately, the news is not good. Alas, the powers that be have declared that they cannot take on any new vendors unless they have their AS9100 certification. “If you only have that,” he says morosely, while chewing on his raw eel, “I could give you some quotes today and get you started. But without you having that AS9100, my hands are tied.”
That’s certainly a bad day at Black Rock for you. But he seems to be a good guy and you trust him after all the time you’ve spent together, so you reluctantly go back to your company with the news. Fortunately, for you other salespeople have already relayed the same news from customers they visited as well. So, after a lot of tearing of clothes and gnashing of teeth your management asks you to do a forecast based on how much business you could get if you only had that AS9100 in your hot little hands. So, you and the rest of the sales team put together a wonderfully optimistic forecast and turn it in. The ROI on AS9100 looks wonderful enough to convince management to go ahead and invest their time and money to get their AS9100 certification.
Six months later, you head over to visit your friend, the sushi lover, proudly carrying your copy of that AS9100 certification to show him. You are fully expecting to walk out of his office with a stack of RFQs to quote. But he just smiles and says, “Let’s go to lunch first okay?” You agree and off you go thinking that, “Now finally this is a lunch that will pay off!”
But, as they say in Paris, au contraire, mon frère. With a very sad face he tells you that unfortunately you have taken too long and now the big shots upstairs are not going to allow anyone to sell anything to them unless they have their NADCAP qualification!
Now what do you do? Your state has the death sentence for murder, so that is out. You can’t beat the crap out of him—that really would not be the proper strategy to follow right now. Some of your customers might read about it in the I-Connect007 Daily Newsletter. So, what do you do?
Easy—you walk away, right now. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, just go. This guy is never going to buy from you, so just walk away and let him buy his own damn raw fish from now on.
This story, as sad as it is, is based on what happens to the salespeople I work with every day. Some of their potential customers are just playing them for all they are worth. And they are so hungry for work, heck, so hungry to just get an appointment or even a phone call returned that they will put up with just about any abusive behavior just to get a little action.
You just have to "know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.” People will be happy to waste your time leading you down that primrose path of potential orders when they never intend to give you any.
They will keep you going down that path by asking you what your company can do, until they find something that admittedly you don’t do and, what a coincidence, that is the very thing that they need. “If you only had that we could do business,” they will tell you. Well, guess what? That is tantamount to saying “No, we are not going to do business with you,” but they just don’t have the guts to say it in plain English, thus saving you a great deal of time in the end.
As odd as it sounds, sometimes you do have to drive the conversation to the words “No, we are not going to do business with you.” And you have to accept that and move on.
It’s only common sense.