Country singer Kenny Rogers had a big hit record called The Gambler, and a verse from that tune read “You gotta know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, know when to run…” Those words offer sage advice to card players and salespeople too. Are you listening salespeople? Let me explain. Like gamblers hoping to win a pot of money, salespeople bet their professional lives on winning the sale… but you can’t win them all.
Smart card players recognize a losing hand when they’re dealt one. Sometimes they’ll try to bluff their opponents, but they also know that strategy will work just so many times before the other players catch on. Instead, the wise card player understands when it’s time to throw back his cards and live to play another hand. As a professional salesperson, sometimes you’ll be dealt a bad hand during a sales appointment. For example, the prospect comes across as unfriendly, impatient, overly critical, tight-lipped or incredibly demanding. You try several ways to get the prospect to open up and begin to trust you, but it doesn’t happen. In fact, you get the impression the prospect is just using you to collect information and has no intention of doing business with you.
Guess what? It’s time to fold’em and walk away. For some salespeople, it’s counter-intuitive to leave a prospect’s office after working so hard to gain the appointment. Do it anyway. Cut your losses. Don’t be rude or abrupt, but don’t be afraid to tell the prospect it appears you’re not the right company to help them solve their problems. You’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation and frustration going after business that’s not there, and you can better invest the time with a prospect who is sincere about discussing your products and services. That’s the time to “hold ‘em.”