This past week… after a number of emails, a proposal and a couple of phone conversations, a sales prospect (a.k.a. a potential new client) got back with me and said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And guess what? While it wasn’t the answer I wanted, I was actually OK with it.
It was a pleasant, professional conversation where she thanked me for my time and effort, but said that now what not the right time to enter into an engagement. We ended on good terms… discussed the possibility of doing something down the road… and that was that.
And that’s just fine with me. Now I know where I stand with that firm. Now I know what next steps will be… or won’t be.
Why can’t all prospects be like that? Why are the vast (yes, vast!) majority afraid to say “thanks, but no thanks.” Why do they avoid us (us being those responsible for business development) like we’re infected with some disease… not returning phone calls or emails?
Note: And please don’t say “I’ve been really busy”… it takes less than 1 minute to leave a voice mail or write an email.
So what do we do? We keep trying to contact them… staying on their radar… hoping that something will happen at some point. I would much rather have a prospect just say “thanks, but no thanks” so that we can both be on our way. So that I don’t continue to waste my time (and theirs) trying to follow up.
C’mon… you’re a professional (presumably) in every other aspect of your business life. Be a professional here. If you don’t want to do business with me, just say “thanks, but no thanks.” It’s clearly not the answer I’d be looking for… but it’s a fair and definitive answer – and that’s all I ask for.