Walking away from a bad deal is tough. Too often, we don’t have the courage to do this–the pressure for revenue is so high that we get ourselves into situations that are bad.
One of my clients just did this. We had been talking about a specific opportunity. They were really struggling with the customer. Early in the sales process, they were concerned about the customer and their ability to meet the customer’s expectations for the project. Through the customer buying process, they kept trying to address the critical success issues with the customer.
While the customer kept nodding their heads in the right direction, the ways they were responding, the glossing over of critical issues, the missed meetings, all contributed to an increasing level of discomfort with my client. We had a number of discussions about what to do–should they walk away, should they continue to try to catch the customer’s attention on these issues?
We talked about issues like, “Is this an order you really want to win, can you be successful in meeting the customer expectations if you win it?” “If the project is fails to achieve the customer objectives, what are the consequences to the customer and to us?” “Can we manage a successful outcome to this project? How can we get the customer aligned for success?”
There were a lot of tough questions. Underlying all of this was the revenue was very important to my client. While it wasn’t a big project, they really wanted and needed the revenue. Disqualifying and walking away would be painful.
They continued through the sales cycle, they kept trying to get the customer to recognize what needed to be done to create the outcomes they expected–that my client was dependent on the customer executing certain things well in order to achieve results.
The customer CEO finally selected my client as the partner the for the project. But my client was still very uncomfortable–the CEO was ignoring or giving lip service to the issues my client had identified. In their final negotiations, they started seeing more signs the customer either didn’t recognized the critical things they needed to do or was not committed to doing those things. But the CEO kept wanting to go forward–glossing over all the issues my client had raised.
Last night my client called a stop to things. They had a discussion with the customer and sent a very polite but firm note to the CEO. They thanked him for the opportunity, but expressed concern about the ability to produce the results he expected. In concluding, they declined the order.
Walking away is always tough. Ideally, we disqualify bad opportunities early in the sales cycle. But sometimes it’s impossible to tell until the end of the sales process. Walking away when you have won is very painful. Your and your customer expectations are built to a certain level that it’s very difficult to stop moving forward.
But if you know that you can’t meet the customer expectations, that the project will not achieve the goals, that it will be bad business for you; it’s critical that you do walk away.
Not all revenue is good revenue. Some deals can be terribly bad–you disappoint customers, your reputation is impacted, the deal can be very unprofitable.
Walking away takes courage.
Look at your pipeline–are there deals that will be the wrong one’s for your company? Should you be walking away from some of your opportunities?