April 15, 2024

Deal breakers go both ways

The longest sales cycle I ever had was with a small prospect in Florida.

We had a phone call. They were an okay fit for me. I sent them a proposal and didn’t hear back right away, which was fine with me.

Eventually, they let me know that the delay was because they had another project in front of mine and would let me know when the blocker project was done so we could get started.

This is a classic “this deal isn’t going to close” signal, and normally, I would have just let it go and forgotten all about the gig.

However, I was working on some articles about doing sales follow-up and decided to use this situation as an experiment.

So, I put a reminder in my calendar to follow up with them every month to find out how the blocker project was going.

My contact would always get back to me pretty quickly and say something like, “Oh, there was a surprise, and it’s taking a little longer than expected. We’re still interested in working with you.”

Then I would reply with something like, “Roger that, totally understand. I’ll ping you again in a month if I haven’t heard back before.”

And then, in a month, I’d email again with something like, “Following up as promised. How’s that other project going?”

This back and forth went on for maybe five or six months.

Much to my surprise, they eventually finished the blocker project and were ready to move forward with me.

After all that back and forth, they sent an email telling me that they approved the proposal, were ready to get started, and wanted to know when I could fly to their office for a kickoff meeting.

Fly to their office? NOPE! Not gonna happen.

A trip to Florida was NOT part of my proposal and was not something I was going to do for any reasonable price.

I told my contact that my interest in the project was at least partial predicated on the assumption that no travel would be required.

He indicated that if we could not meet in person, it would be a deal breaker because they were old-fashioned and preferred to do business by shaking hands face-to-face.

To which I replied, “I understand. Well, if it’s that important to you, I would be happy to host your executive team here at my office in Providence, RI.”

Guess what?

All of a sudden, they were perfectly happy to do the kickoff meeting over the phone.