Sales isn’t just about closing deals.
One of the most valuable skills a salesperson can learn is to say no to a deal.
Salespeople are regularly tempted with the opportunity to close deals with people who aren’t really qualified to buy from their company.
While some more unscrupulous organizations and salespeople might give in to that temptation, the best salespeople recognize this is dangerously shortsighted.
Not only do unfit customers have a much higher risk of being unsuccessful and canceling, but they also are more likely to waste internal resources and give your company a bad reputation.
This is why the most highly effective salespeople ask tough questions early on.
They understand that one of the biggest time-wasters is talking to people who aren’t really qualified to buy from them.
So instead of trying to force or coerce a deal, they simply disqualify these people and move on.
This isn’t because these salespeople are lazy or impatient, either.
Rather, they recognize there are plenty of fish in the sea for them to sell to, and that there’s an “opportunity cost” to spending their time talking to the wrong people instead of those eager and ready to buy from them.
This is the way the best salespeople do it:
1. Define who can (and cannot) buy from you
You can’t effectively disqualify buyers if you don’t know what makes someone qualified to buy from you or not.
The best way to start is by mapping out your “best customers” using qualitative and quantitative analysis.
One way to do this is by looking at your CRM data to analyze the “top 20 percent” of your customers, whether that’s defined by account size, lifetime value, or other things, like customer satisfaction.
You could even create a report that lets you see which deals had the greatest “velocity,” meaning which ones closed the most revenue the fastest.
Do you notice any patterns in terms of company size, who the decision makers were, or other relevant indicators you could use to predict which companies are most likely to be your best customers?
Customer success expert Lincoln Murphy, of Sixteen Ventures, actually recommends starting a list of bad-fit characteristics first, because it’s often easier to spot customers who don’t have a potential for success.
2. Discover who you’re selling to
Where does the person you’re talking to stand within their organization?
Are they just gathering research for their boss, or do they have decision-making power?