Women in Sales Blog

Sales Process Tip: When a Lead or Opportunity is not a Good Fit Tell Them Why and Let Them Go

Posted by Jan 16, 2015, 12:59:42 PM Ali Powell


Selling software is fun and makes me feel good when I sell our product to a company who really needs it. I have no interest in selling HubSpot to a company where they are a bad fit. I will never try to make someone a good fit for my own benefit. That will only result in bad customers and unhappy customers. I have no interest in that. At the core of who I am, I enjoy helping people. I naturally find joy and happiness when I help someone or do something good. So that happens when I sell software too. I naturally want to help the right people because I care. 

The reason I got into sales was because it was a great way to help people buy a product that I knew would help them to do a better job in their role. When I sell HubSpot to a marketer/s I know from my qualification of that company and their marketing processes that HubSpot is going to help them to do better. If I ever feel like something is off, or for some reason the things they are telling me don't sound like a good fit for what our product does, I always tell them. 

Here are a couple tips to make sure you are showing your leads up front that you only have interest in helping them find the right product for their needs and if that happens to not be your product you will tell them why. 

1. Understand your prospect's situation as well as you can to be able to qualify them in or out.

Tell them up front on an your exploratory calls that your job is to understand their situation really, really well. From there you will take that information and explain to them how or why they are a fit or not a fit. 

sales process tips If you are honest up front in the sales process from moment one of talking with them they will respect your opinions and respect your advice. If for whatever reason the company is not a good fit for your product you should let them know why and let them go. 

I can think of one time a couple years ago where I really didn't think a company's business model and what they wanted to do marketing wise was a good fit for using our software. They were kind of shocked that I was telling them this in our first conversation. Almost like, "why don't you want to sell to me?" Well the reason is simple. I do not want people using my product if I know they are not going to do well with it. I will tell the company and people I am speaking with why they are not a fit and hear them out. 

Most people respect my opinions and appreciate me explaining why they are not a fit. Sometimes they agree with me and sometimes they don't. Most of the time they agree. But, that one time I am referencing is a time when the company did not agree with me. They thought they were a good fit and I told them to tell me why. Come back to me with real reasons and real things they would do in our platform and then maybe I would listen to them and let them buy. They actually did end doing their "homework" and came back to me with good, solid ideas for using HubSpot in the short term and the long term and I let them buy.

As a sales person you have the right to let people go. You should know when someone is a fit and when someone is not a fit. To be a great sales rep you need to acknowledge that you might know more than the prospect does and even if they think they are a fit and you don't you have the right to not sell to them. 

2. Make sure that you educate yourself on the competitive space and understand use cases for your competitors as well as how you differentiate.

 Over the years selling into the space I do I have seen that sometimes the competition doesn't understand who their best market is. They will sell to anyone. I know this because over the years I have seen more and more customers unhappy with their software they are using for their marketing because of the size of their business, the needs and wants of a tool set. These companies that I sell into (startups, mostly under 200 employees) they have needs and use cases that a company with 5000 employees does not have. I wish all sales people in a space would recognize when someone is a fit for a competitor. 

I will tell companies that they are a better fit for a competitor if I really feel like that. It happens less and less now because of what our toolset does now and how we have grown with what the market wants. But, everyone selling into a space should know what type of company is a good fit for their product (best fit actually) vs. the competitors they have. If they think that the competitors are a better fit for them then you should tell them that and tell them why you think that. 

If everyone did that in the space you are selling into then your company as well as your competitors would have more happy customers. Quick tip- understand what your competitors do, really, really understand their product and use case. Know why and when someone is a better fit for them and be okay with letting a prospect know that. 

3. If your product does not do something that the prospect wants to be able to do always tell them why and how you do it differently. 

There will always be point things that your product does or doesn't do that your prospect will ask about. Have an opinion and have a reason as to why you do it one way or don't do it. If you can articulate why you do things the way you do from a product level you will show that you are knowledgeable in your space and you might even sway their way of thinking for the better. 

Do you agree that you should always know when an opportunity or a lead is a fit? If they are not a fit do you tell them that and how? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas! 

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Topics: sales tips, sales prospecting, sales process, smart prospecting, smart sales process, sales prospecting tips

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