Prospects Say “No” But Vendors Don’t Listen…

Fundamentally, people don’t like to say “no” to other people. They are often uncomfortable expressing their true feelings. We see this play out in sales cycles over and over, costing both vendors and prospects an enormous amount of wasted time and energy. Here’s an example:

A prospect, exploring solution possibilities, browses a vendor website and clicks the “Book a Demo” button. The vendor SDR/BDR contacts the prospect to qualify and sets a meeting for the prospect with a salesperson and a presales resource, promising an “overview demo”.

In this meeting, the salesperson asks a few questions to confirm pain and ensure that the prospect’s tech stack is appropriate, then invites the presales person to deliver the overview demo. At the end of the demo, the salesperson asks, “What do you think?”

The prospect replies, “Um, well, looks interesting, thanks. Great demo…” However, the prospect’s tone is not particularly positive. The prospect is unconvinced.

Our salesperson, detecting this reluctance, offers another meeting, “Hey, would you like a deeper demo? You really didn’t get to see everything in our solution…!”

“Um, well, OK, I guess…” are the words that come out of the prospect’s mouth. But what the prospect really just said was, “No, thank you”. 

Another, longer meeting is scheduled for the deeper dive demo, and our salesperson encourages the prospect to invite more participants to join, as well.

The deeper dive demo meeting takes place, with more people from the prospect (and potentially more from the vendor as well). Sadly, there is a “rinse and repeat” exchange at the close of this longer call, with the salesperson again asking, “What do you think?”

“Um, well, thanks again. We’d like to digest what we’ve seen…” says the prospect. But again, what the prospect really meant was, “No, this is not a good fit.”

What do you think happens next? Our salesperson, again sensing the prospect’s hesitancy, jumps in with, “Would you like a POC?”

Our prospect responds, “Um, well, OK…” but again, what our prospect is really trying to communicate is “No, thanks.” 

Sadly, the process continues with the POC, consuming resources from both the vendor and the prospect. At the end of the POC, another meeting is organized to discuss “next steps”.

At this point, finally, the prospect comments that “We’ve decided to go in another direction…” Note that the prospect never actually said, “No”!

Has this ever happened to you – either as the vendor or the prospect?

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