Why Always Saying “Yes” is Killing Your Business

Selling is tough.

You’re faced with the constant pressure of winning deals in a world saturated with competition. So, the idea of disqualifying a lead probably makes you apprehensive.

A lead is a lead, right? Whether it brings in R50k or R300k?

We disagree.

And it’s a lesson we learnt the hard way.

The time we made this mistake

Sales mistake
In our early days, a lead came in that grabbed our interest.

We took it through our qualification process and a red flag was raised. The typical deal size for our business is R750k. But this prospective customer had a budget of just R100k.

Instead of disqualifying the deal based on our own tried and tested qualification process, we decided to take on the new customer. Saying to ourselves, “Surely we can make a plan?” – How many times have you heard a salesperson say those words?

A week into the new project, our biggest customer came to us with an urgent requirement worth five times the budget of this new customer. The problem was, we couldn’t fulfil on this requirement because our consultants’ time was now consumed by the smaller deal.

The realisation: We’d spent all our time and energy on a field mouse. And it meant that we missed the antelope.

What we learnt from this mistake

Qualify OUT as well as in!

In our last sales article, we emphasised the importance of having a structured sales process and the need for defined gates. And the first gate in any sales process must be Qualification.

Our mistake made us reassess our qualification process (we use B.A.N.T). We asked ourselves some hard questions and looked at what went wrong. What we discovered was: we faltered when it came to qualifying OUT (just like all businesses). And it wasn’t because we didn’t follow B.A.N.T.

On the contrary, the prospective customer ticked all the B.A.N.T boxes. What we didn’t do was look beyond Budget, Access to Power, Need, and Time. We didn’t follow our instincts. We knew this prospective customer wasn’t the best fit but we decided to say “yes”… because it’s hard to disqualify a lead.

So, now when we’re faced with the hard choice, we remind ourselves of an analogy used by entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss.

In his book, Tools of Titans, he talks about “hunting field mice vs antelope”:

“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So, a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. … So, ask yourself at the end of the day, ‘Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?'”

Mouse vs antelope
Your business can’t survive on field mice.

The resources needed to complete a job for a field mouse, are the same needed for an antelope. A field mouse might tick all the B.A.N.T boxes. But it doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for your business. So, you must extend your qualification process, and trust in your instincts as a salesperson.

Next time you need to qualify a lead, stop and ask yourself…

  • Is this engagement worth tying up the resource?
  • Is this project right for our business?
  • Is the prospective business a good fit?
  • How will this deal affect our ability to fulfil on future deals?

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