At what point do you stop chasing a sale?

This morning on my way to a networking meeting I drove past the premises of a business I pitched to several months ago. I wondered, as I do whenever I pass by, how things were going there and if they were in a position to use some external marketing support.

Six months ago I was introduced to the business through a networking contact and had a very positive meeting with one of the senior team. The meeting concluded with her saying “she really wanted to work with me but just had a couple of projects to complete before she was in a position to bring me in.” I have kept in touch via email and tried to maintain the “hello, I am still here when you are ready approach” without being too pushy or irritating. Her responses have been warm and I still haven’t actually had the brush off although no work has been forthcoming either.

Driving past the premises this morning made me question how long you should chase a sale for. The odd “just keeping in touch email” isn’t particularly time consuming or intrusive on my other business development activities but yet this business is still sitting in my sales pipeline and perhaps its mere presence there distorts my business development focus. We all need the reassurance of work which hasn’t quite come in but looks pretty certain and every now and then I run through what’s in my sales pipeline and convince myself that should any of my current work fall out of bed there is potentially forthcoming work there to pick up the slack.

Am I deluding myself?

At what point do you accept that a sale is unlikely and move on?

Having given this some thought and Googled “at what point do you stop chasing a sale?” I have come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong answer. Much of it will be down to gut feel and past experience. Some of it will depend on the nature of your business, what you are selling and the buying behaviours of your target market. Mostly it depends on knowing your business and the sales process associated with it. For that you need to understand the following:

  • Who are your best (most profitable) customers
  • Where they came from
  • How much they spent with you
  • What are your most profitable products/services
  • The average value of your sales
  • Your closing ratios

Armed with this information you can make informed decisions as to when it is time to admit defeat and move on.

On reflection I think that I will keep up with the odd friendly email for now but perhaps place less emphasis on their certainty in my sales pipeline.

What works for your business? I would be really interested to hear others views on this subject so please post your comments below.

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