Which Salespeople Use Bad Judgment and Burn Bridges?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 @ 06:06 AM

describe the imageYou want your salespeople to get decisions instead of taking stalls, put-offs and objections.  Some of your salespeople are better at this than others.  I've written extensively about the difference between the required skills versus the strengths that support closing, as well as recognizing and dealing with put-offs.  Today, I will discuss the difference between not getting the desired reaction or behavior, not getting a decision and burning a bridge.

So here are several common scenarios:

  1. Prospect says, "Yes" - No action required.
  2. Prospect says, "No" - Find out why and attempt to resell. Worst case, you have a final decision.
  3. Prospect says, "We'll let you know next week" - Find out what will be different next week or what they expect to say next week and attempt to close now.  Worst case, follow up next week.
  4. Prospect says, "We aren't sure" or "Maybe" or "Timing isn't right" - Start asking questions, back up, get to the bottom of it and begin selling again.
  5. Prospect says, "We still need to look around" or "We don't know who we're going to go with" - you didnt' stand out so you can do what you can to change that, find out what they wanted to hear or see but didn't, or bring it to a "No".

From the scenarios above, the most likely candidate for disaster is #3 (although you can make a case for 4 and 5). 

A timid salesperson waits for next week and if there is another put-off, loses control and eventually the potential revenue from opportunities like this one. 

An excellent salesperson asks good, tough, timely questions and gets the opportunity either back on track, sold, or to a "No". 

Impatient, emotional salespeople become overly frustrated and when they don't have Need for Approval (usually a good thing except when they are impatient and emotional) they may use bad judgment. Rather than asking questions, helping with the process, providing the prospect with an opportunity to say, "No", or leaving the door open for next time, they blow-up the prospect/opportunity, burn the bridge and move on.  They usually feel like the prospect deserved it.

One selling methodology even teaches its students to "burn your bridges".

I can't think of a single situation where the salesperson or company benefits from burning a bridge.

Agreeing not to do business is fine.  Accepting that you won't get the business after giving maximum effort is fine. Telling a prospect that you don't think you can work with them is fine.  But insults, rudeness, nastiness and abruptness is not fine.

Burn your emotions, not your bridges.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Closing Sales, closing techniques

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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