As an entrepreneur, you are pouring your life, your time, your energy, and your money into your business so that it is a success, impacts the world, and creates an economic benefit in your life.
Part of building your company includes creating a massive sales funnel that is full of prospects. Common wisdom is that you get as many prospects into your funnel as possible, which will turn into qualified leads, and then customers. Sounds good, right?
You do not want bad prospects in your sales funnel because it will take away from the good, real, and viable prospects. Every minute you spend with a bad prospect is a minute away from a good prospect.
Here are 6 common reasons to fire a prospect from your sales funnel.
#1 They steal your ideas
This happens all the time and it marks the fundamental breakdown in understanding what business is all about. Relationships.
Very often, a prospect will seem interested and ask, "what would you recommend?" or "what would you do?". To the eager entrepreneur, this sounds like a great question and step toward working together.
Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not.
The good prospects love to hear your ideas, get excited about working together, and sign the contract to start business. The bad prospects hear your ideas, ask for more information, and then go silent on you.
Before you know it, the prospect isn't responding to your emails, calls, or texts, and then you see the prospect is trying to implement your ideas on his own.
Sometimes, he'll try for a few months, fail, and then call you to fix the problem. That might be OK. Most often if this happens, the prospect will do his own thing with your ideas, leaving you in the dust.
Drop this prospect immediately and quit pursuing them. If they steal your ideas in the first place, it's going to be a rocky relationships later on, anyways.
#2 They string you along
This happens all the time to entrepreneurs and good salespeople.
You want to make the sale, close the contract, and build the relationship together, yet the prospect is always just a little too busy or the timing isn't right.
Yes, sometimes this is true and you should always seek to serve your prospect and respect the demands of life on him. But be weary of the prospect who always has some sort of reason or excuse as to why he can't do business, especially if he has indicated interest, told you he would do business, or given you the verbal OK or handshake.
If the prospect is stringing you along now, they will likely string you along with every other aspect of business, which makes for a painful and difficult business relationship down the road.
#3 They are expensive
Prospects are expensive in a variety of ways. Customer acquisition can take the form of time, meals together, entertainment, thank-you notes, gifts, or a variety of other good measures.
When a prospect becomes overly expensive, that's when they are so burdensome, demanding, or high-touch that it literally becomes not worth your time.
You always have to consider what time and what energy you give to which prospects. If somebody is overly demanding of your resources, that means somebody else is not going to get your attention. If this is the case, drop the prospect and find somebody who really wants to work with you.
#4 They are abusive
Sometimes, prospects can be mean or verbally abusive. Unfortunately, this happens and you should drop the prospect immediately.
I don't mean that the prospect is hitting your or performing other types of abuse. What I mean by this is that the prospect is abusing your generosity, your time, your willingness to help or provide proof of concepts. Sometimes, prospects abuse members of your team with teasing, demeaning language, or a lack of respect.
Any of these things should grab your attention and perk your ears up to if you want a business relationship with the person. Remember, however the prospect is acting now is probably a good indicator as to how he will act for the remainder of the business relationship.
You are a professional and you should be treated as a professional.
#5 They lack ethics
This one is a major red flag and should cue your attention immediately. Always keep in mind that if a prospect is cheating somebody else, lying, or doing unethical business, that it is only a matter of time until the prospect does that to you.
Your product or service is a direct extension of your brand, which represents you. As an entrepreneur, you should covet your reputation and hold your network as precious. Do not work with unethical people and if your prospect starts showing these signs, get them out of your sales funnel immediately.
#6 They want it for free
Business is about relationships and successful entrepreneurs create something out of nothing for the benefit of others. This something usually costs money.
If your prospects starts asking for free business, you need to be weary of toeing the line that is between proof of concept work and getting used. Don't ever start work without a contract in hopes that it's in "good faith", either.
Providing a complimentary audit or small proof of concept may be OK and even a show of good faith. But be very cautious if your prospect asks you to provide the full product or service for free. This tells you that your prospect doesn't understand contracts, doesn't value your product or service, and doesn't respect you as a professional. All three are bad things.
Do not give things away for free. Remember, your blood, sweat, and tears have gone into your business and it's worth every penny.
How to break it off
Business is all about working with people and sometimes it means that you have to end the relationship. That's OK.
To be a healthy entrepreneur, you need to have healthy boundaries. This means saying no, being firm, communicating clearly, and even breaking if off.
The best way to do this is by being professional, clear, and concise. Do not be rude, mean, or angry. But stand up for yourself and your business and recognize that not all people are going to be good prospects and customers for your company. Remember, it's OK to have boundaries.
Remember these 6 telltale signs of when to fire a prospect and you'll be headed in a good direction to grow your company and impact the marketplace worldwide.