I heard our VP of Sales Adam Liebman say something a few weeks ago, that I think is very important for all Sales/BD people to understand. Sometimes it’s just as important to get to a no than a yes. Why? It’s in your time’s best interest. Every moment you spend on a deal that’s never going to happen, is time you could be working on one that will. Thus, the faster you determine that someone isn’t buying, the more you can focus on people that are. The idea is to get to a resolution as fast a possible without jeopardizing a positive outcome. It’s an art that can only be learned through time and experience and is more appropriate for pure sales/productized partnerships.
What is a productized partnership? It’s one that requires little customization. Your offering is not apt to change; either they’re buying or they’re not. An API integration can be an example of this.
The velocity and degree to which you should push for a resolution depends on a host of things. Just to name a few:
- How productized vs. customized the sale/partnership/deal is
- How many alternative targets exist. If there’s a million people you could sell to, don’t waste your time on ones that won’t close.
- How much one target will move the needle. Big opportunity = mas tiempo.
So why don’t we push for a resolution when we should?
In the sales/deal funnel, ambiguity can be a very comfortable position. It always feels better to know you still have a chance to close than getting out right rejected. But you need to be honest with yourself about why this ambiguity exists. Is it because you’re being patient, respectful, or waiting for a strategic event? Or is it because you’re preserving your ego and/or afraid to stray from your comfort zone. If you’re in the latter camp, you’re not taking all the ground you could be. This behavior can resemble the following:
- You give up a target just because they didn’t respond to your first cold email.
- You decide not to try any form of communication other than email when you don’t get a response; you convince yourself it’s unprofessional. Pick up the phone scaredy cat.
- You continually find reasons to wait to contact someone that aren’t grounded in strategic patience (or some other appropriate reason).
Getting to a resolution can be an uncomfortable process because you’re opening yourself up to the prospect of rejection. Once you embrace that rejection, when prompted by things out of your control, is actually a good thing, it’s easier to push for a resolution. And when appropriate, the faster you get to a resolution the better. You can shift your focus to games you can win.
Again, sometimes it’s just as important to get to a no than a yes.