We say NO to a lot of business and our goal is to say no early. I like clean pipelines – but don’t get me wrong, I don’t like empty pipelines. A clean pipeline means that the prospects in the pipeline are appropriate and qualified for us. The usual qualification characteristics almost everyone gets right; things like credit-worthiness, geographically serviceable, product or service alignment…those are a part of everyone’s up front list.

The customers that hurt your business or your margin over time, usually meet those baseline qualifications. To avoid this, we created an expanded list of qualifications for our prospects:

  • Wrong problem – If the prospect has a problem that is in our field of operation, but not our specialty, then they have the wrong problem. We focus on large account sales. If they only need better territorial sales skills management, we pass.
  • Wrong perspective on solutions – If the buyer can’t be moved from his or her point of view on how to fix a problem in the area in which we have expertise, we leave.
  • Bad culture chemistry – No jerk rule. We just avoid jerks, regardless of how juicy the opportunity. Jerks rarely get better as customers if they are bad as prospects.
  • Your gut tells you so – When was the last time you fought your instincts on something and won? Me either.

Companies who drive to the quota only, regardless of the quality of customer, are sacrificing the future for the moment. That’s a dangerous way to play the game. Better to lose prospects early on, rather than end up with customers you don’t really want.

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