The opposite of a 'one-call-close' sales prospect....

18 replies
I've been reading some VERY interesting threads here lately, especially in the past week. One that's been taking place in the last day or so is about the one-call-close.

I've got a bit of a different problem, a customer that 'closed', said yes, lets go ahead, but still doesn't pull the trigger.

Let me give you some background. This is a B2B situation for a fairly technical product. The client wants me to build a total end-to-end sales funnel for this product. The price tag is high 4 figures.

We had our first conversation about this late February. And, yeah, he was pretty interested in what I could do for him. About six weeks ago, he asked me for a formal proposal that identified milestones, progress payments, etc.which I sent through.

Then he wanted to schedule a meeting to sign the proposal and give me a check for the initial deposit, and it is continually being delayed, etc.

I have years of experience in selling B2B, and this one's screaming at me in big red letters, "T R O U B L E"

Part of the irritation I'm feeling is that I'd allowed some time in my planning / scheduling to allow for this to get underway. In the meantime, however, I've moved on with other projects.

So having said all that, I'm wondering how some of you other experienced sales geeks would handle it. Assume that this dog don't hunt? Push a bit harder? Right now I'm focusing on my clients who don't have issues with placing an order, and leaving this guy alone.

Penny for your thoughts?

Tom
#onecallclose #opposite #prospect #sales
  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Yeah, you know what to do.

    Get this guy to move forward or drop it.

    "I was pretty sure you were really interested in getting started on this. Can you share with me what the hold-up is?"

    And if it's legit, OK. But if it's not, maybe you're not a fit. It's awful to hang on and on to these "Maybes" with your emotions going up and down. You can always let it go, treat it as if it's a No, and if it comes back to life later, great. But don't tie yourself to it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    You know what they say..."money talks..." - and it's very true.

    We get this often, like weekly. Someone we have talked to MONTHS ago, or off an on via email for a while, or even new people. Spend a few minutes with them to just verify what they are doing, and that they have what's needed to move forward (list, qualifying questions, ability to understand and converse), then we hear "great, I'm looking to get right on this, go ahead and send over the invoice." Then nothing. So, we changed things.

    We now have a limit on how long an invoice is good. Sometimes it's 24 hours, some times it's until the end of the week. Once that invoice isn't paid, it's canceled, and you have to call us again to get a new one. When you call, you get NO further information, consultation, or anything, you get 24 hours to pay it and then that's it. We're done, for good. So, 2 chances total.

    Since we put that into play, and stand our ground, things have changed, there's no more wondering who is serious, or who is going to pull the trigger. You're in or you're out, and if you're out, there's plenty more people I can spend my time on that pay.

    Oh, and aside from emails about specials, etc, we don't hound anyone. We may do a call if someone hasn't gotten back to us on a day they said they would, but other than that - they are adults, if they want to work with you, they will.
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    • Profile picture of the author Talltom1
      Yup...all good responses. I think the point about putting the time limit on the offer is a very good idea.

      And you're right. we're all adults, you know what you need to do.

      Onward, forward, ever pressing, shouting loud hosanna's!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    Put a time limit on the proposal - good for 30 days or something like that.

    Is he having financial troubles? check Dun and Brad

    What does your gut tell you?
    Write down all the yellow and red flags about this guy and then decide if you really want him as a client. Got any feel from his previous IM service providers?

    If you think he's trouble, is high four figures from him worth the stress, time consumption, opportunity costs, the quality you deliver to other clients?

    Dan
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    "If you think you're the smartest person in the room, then you're probably in the wrong room."

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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    That's another thing...when you have the tire kicker/toe dipper/wishy washy/excuse potential client - it is a HUGE indicator of how they will be once they are a client. If it's not a high ticket...it's not a high priority for us.

    Sorry, but my peace of mind and sanity are also worth something.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      You guys and your proposals and invoices.

      You keep putting things between you and the money. My proposal is on the phone or in front of the client. My invoice is a receipt that they get after I process their credit card (or get a check).

      As soon as they say yes. my next words are "What credit card are you going to use?" or "Made the check out to my company". ..and then we continue the conversation.

      A customer is still just a prospect until money has changed hands.

      The prospect never feels a commitment until they pay.


      I know this deal (to the OP) is more complex than that. But I've never scheduled a meeting to get paid. If I sold to a government agency or a school...maybe. But a company? No.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        You guys and your proposals and invoices.

        You keep putting things between you and the money. My proposal is on the phone or in front of the client. My invoice is a receipt that they get after I process their credit card (or get a check).

        As soon as they say yes. my next words are "What credit card are you going to use?" or "Made the check out to my company". ..and then we continue the conversation.

        A customer is still just a prospect until money has changed hands.

        The prospect never feels a commitment until they pay.


        I know this deal (to the OP) is more complex than that. But I've never scheduled a meeting to get paid. If I sold to a government agency or a school...maybe. But a company? No.
        True True. "A sale isn't a sale until you've taken the money to the bank."

        Get the money & commitment first, send the invoice afterwards.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    We also take checks There are just some people that won't do it over the phone and prefer invoicing or paypal, do we like them? No. (Don't get me started on people here on WF and their dragging feet).

    We do what's normal for us and what works.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    LOL have you guys never had a client that needed a PO, or an invoice to cut a check? I know for a fact that most medium to large companies need some type of invoicing to do so. Like I said, we do what works, and since we are still in business...it apparently works.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
      Originally Posted by Mwind076 View Post

      LOL have you guys never had a client that needed a PO, or an invoice to cut a check? I know for a fact that most medium to large companies need some type of invoicing to do so. Like I said, we do what works, and since we are still in business...it apparently works.
      Right, but we discuss terms beforehand. Sure I can give them an invoice, and I know I'll be paid immediately upon receipt not weeks later.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Mwind076 View Post

      LOL have you guys never had a client that needed a PO, or an invoice to cut a check? I know for a fact that most medium to large companies need some type of invoicing to do so. Like I said, we do what works, and since we are still in business...it apparently works.
      Of course, there are companies that require this. In our store we have people we bill. These are established repeat customers.

      But I only deal with CEOs, and small business owners. There is someplace they simply pay. I just want to be the next one of those. And I always have a contract in front of me all filled out. There is never a need to mail it in or FAX it in. It helps that everyone gets the same thing from me and the same pricing.

      This isn't an argument. But if they pay anyone up front, they can pay you too. I'm not telling you how to do your business. I'm explaining how I do my business. If it came across differently, it's my fault.
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  • Profile picture of the author DaniMc
    Whatever you do...if you lose the sale, make sure you ask why. This is am important factor that most overlook.

    We all focus on figuring out why people ARE buying from us. It is equally (if not more) important to ask people for an honest reason they did NOT buy from us. That is powerful information.

    I have called someone up in the past and asked: "What is taking so long to get this going? I know you need to do this. You know you need to do this. So, what is the holdup?"
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    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
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  • Profile picture of the author Talltom1
    Hey Claude,
    I understand the point you're trying to make about grabbing the order right then and there. While I suspect thats very true in a B2C or a B to Commercial setting, it is a bit different in an industrial setting. In that case, yes, you still ask for the order, and you get the commitment, but usually there's procedures that need to be followed, and approvals that need to be obtained before the check, purchase order, or initial deposit and signed contract show up in the mail.

    Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    Claude and Jason, agreed...even with an invoice/po, we have a system in place where there is an understood time limit. Usually it's terms of less than a week. It just depends on if we are waiting on a paper check, verbal approval for the po/invoice, or the magic key holder to release the card info. No matter WHAT the payment form, there should always be an understood time frame (and it should be adhered to) to convey that your time is valuable and in demand.

    Great discussion!
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    I understand the desirability and simplicity of working with businesses that you can close in one call.

    Just another way to get business (maybe for those who aren't so much as salesmen, and it will take longer) is to get known in a niche. The guy doing my town's website comes across as the complete programmer geek stereotype (I'm just stating a fact) and he is getting known for government websites.

    $8000 is probably at the low end of what he does. What's happening for him is that he easily gets to the top of the list the panels look at. There's almost always a leader or two who push for him and he gets notified by existing and previous clients when there is an RFP.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    The reason it seems they've stalled out at the close after saying something like that usually means they need to be told what you expect them to do next which is write a check. It's really as simple as that.
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    • Profile picture of the author Talltom1
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      The reason it seems they've stalled out at the close after saying something like that usually means they need to be told what you expect them to do next which is write a check. It's really as simple as that.
      Hey Rus, thanks for the observation, but the client was furnished all of this in writing, and it has been discussed over the phone more than once, so he knows exactly what the next step is. So no, its not that simple.

      At any rate, in the meantime, I've landed a number of new clients, and on Monday, I'm sending him notice that his proposal has expired after 30 days, and I'm no longer willing to honor it without requoting the entire project.

      Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    Sounds good, sometimes you have to do that. It's not hurting business, because if they haven't paid by now, they either aren't, or you need to talk with them again anyways to fix the issue of them following through.
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