How to Exit a Bad Deal Without Causing a Chain Reaction

Its Like Deja Vu All Over Again

When to walk away from a deal? Walk away negotiation is never easy, but Ive learned that you can learn a lot from watching them. You see things like when to walk away and what the other person is really after because they’re coming at it as an advisor instead of someone with skin in the game.

Quitting the second you see a lead is not going to close will be better for your sales than chasing after leads that are never going to work. This way, when theres one good prospect left and it’s time to walk away from other prospects

Its important to know when it is time to walk away from a deal, and not be too stubborn. Even if you are able to close the sale eventually, there may be other issues that come up later on which will cause tension with your customer.

When you are negotiating a deal, there is always the chance that it will not work out. Here are 6 reasons why walking away negotiations can be beneficial to both parties.


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LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀

Six Reasons to Back Out of a Deal

Reason 1

You are unable to speak with anyone else in the account because this person wont put you through.

You may be on the other side of this type of situation. A gatekeeper is usually a person who has to procure products or services for others in their organization, but they dont actually have ownership over solving that problem themselves.

Its difficult to sell on the basis of value because these people are not trying to do what’s best for your company. They’re there solely to get you a good price at any cost, which means they won’t listen if you try and talk about how much better something is or why it costs more.

If you can’t find a way to speak with someone who has experienced the pain or would see any benefits from addressing an issue, then walk away.

Reason 2

The specifications are written in a way that is extremely difficult for most vendors to meet, with the exception of our competitor.

If the buyer is this far along in their buying cycle, youve missed your chance to influence them and it will be difficult for you to win. Many companies have a no bid policy for “blue bird” RFIsRFPs (i.e., opportunities that sales people only find out about when they receive an RFI or RFP).

Reason 3

You cant think of a way to persuade customers with your current product or service that they should switch from what they already have.

You will meet some people in business who are very interested and willing to talk about what they want, as long as youre there. These types of buyers can take up a lot of time that we need for other things.

The key to selling is not just having a good product, but getting the customer’s attention and making them believe that it will be worth switching over. You need to make sure they understand why your solution beats their current one.

Reason 4

You have not been able to figure out a budget or any other business needs that your product can help with.

Even if you dont have a budget for something, that doesn’t mean the opportunity is lost. Some of the most profitable sales come from when customers are not yet aware of their needs and they haven’t allocated funds to solve it.

To make a successful business case, you need to be able to work with the senior people in your organization and know how much it would cost for them. If that number is too small then there’s no opportunity.

Reason 5

The opportunity is too small to justify the sales effort.

As salespeople, we are always looking for easy opportunities. But these deals take time and effort to complete so it is important that we focus on the big ones.

It doesnt matter how easy the sale appears to be, all sales will take time and effort. You have to ask yourself whether or not it is worth your company’s resources for a new account.

Reason 6

The customer wants a product that is not in your portfolio, and you will need to build the solution from scratch.

I remember the time when I was trying to tell a client about how they could use PowerPoint as an effective sales tool. They were looking at me like I had lost my mind, but then they saw that there is actually power in it.

Usually, of course, the promise to develop new functionality in order to get a big deal is made with senior management’s full knowledge and support. As salespeople we could take this as an opportunity that if we can persuade them then they’ll go along with it which will lead us into getting our commission.

In order to build profitable, long-term customer relationships that deliver ongoing commission for us, we have to resist the temptationtemptation of selling what we dont yet have. We can either persuade a potential client about how valuable our product is and encourage them not need the feature they want or walk away from the deal.

Walk Away Negotiation: ‘Why Not Burning Bridges Matters’

Here is a walk away point in negotiation example:

The background

I once had a MEGA enterprise account handed to me from an inside sales team. They were convinced that the high commission and bonuses I would receive for this one deal was worth it, but they didn’t mention anything about training or support.

The last day of the previous quarter is when I found out that someone had set up a deal in such an unrealistic fashion. The customer was angry and all parties were destined for failure.

The beat-down

The first call was a disaster because they didn’t want to be duped and were angry with me for not telling them about the contract. My friends say i should walk away. They wanted out of it, but I still had nine months left.

I was able to get them back on board by listening, being empathetic and finding out what went wrong. I even flew across the country to meet with them in person more than once so that we could make sure they were getting the best value for their money (including switching up their serviceproduct plan and providing a full-blown training program).

The split

In the end, we both agreed that this arrangement wasnt going to work and came up with a plan for how to phase it out. I had been hoping for an opportunity like this because my numbers were really high but in retrospect, I should have pursued other opportunities.

The comeback

In the past, I dealt with a company that was in need of help. When they found out about my better solution and still refused to work with me, it seemed like their decision had been made from 3 years ago. Know when it’s time to walk away.

Looking back while walking away, I made the mistake of assuming that a high base pay and lucrative commissions would be enough motivation for my salespeople. But they turned out to need more than just this as well, like praise from me or contact with prospects.

The people you talk to today could be your customers in the future. So, always keep their best interests at heart and don’t forget that they’re human too.

It is important to maintain a professional relationship with all your contacts.

Six Tips for Recognizing When to Do a Walk Away Negotiation

How to walk away? Six tips to make better deals: 1. Know your margins and know what you need the deal for (expansion, debt repayment)2. Be willing to walk away from a bad offer if it’s not right for you 3. Make sure that there is room in the company budgetpipeline before committing 4.5.6

1) The Best Time To Consider Leaving Is Before You Begin

To avoid wasting time, its important to plan ahead for when you will walk away from a deal. Walk-away is the point where negotiating no longer makes sense and should be avoided.

In walk away negotiation, always think about what your walk away is before you start. Set a clear boundary and never let yourself be pressured into doing something that doesn’t feel right.

Before you go into a sales call, it is important to consider what your terms of walk way negotiation is. Write down these expectations and know when they’re not being met.

Ive found that it is important to know what you are willing to give up before beginning a negotiation. This will allow you the ability make concessions more strategically.

Negotiations can be tough. The best way to prepare for them is by thinking about your BATNA or the Alternative you have if this walk away negotiation doesnt work out. You will feel less trapped and know that there are other opportunities available.

I have a saying that has been driving home the point: The person who cant walk away loses. This means if you aren’t willing to leave, then you are going to lose.

2) Always Take a Look On Your Walk Away

As a negotiation begins, it is important to have an idea of what your walk away would be. You can then tell if you are nearing that point or not as the walk away negotiation progress.

Youve been negotiating for a while and found that your customer will only pay $89 per user. You knew going into the negotiation you would never go below $99.

The old you may have felt compelled to keep going with a customer that wasn’t profitable, but now because of your strict walk away policy and the fact that it was set before walk away negotiation started, you know when enough is enough. Now we can easily stop wasting time on unprofitable customers and find those who will be able to meet our minimums.

3) Recognize When You Are Acting Emotionally

It is important to remember that sales work involves emotional connections. We all know how to communicate with our customers and understand their feelings.

Sales professionals are also human and have emotions. The problem is that our desires often get in the way of making a good deal, because we want to win at all costs or impress people with how great of a negotiator we are.

We are often so emotionally invested in closing a deal that we forget about the other things. We become single-minded, and its not just because of our high pay or commissions it’s because winning this sale is all that matters.

When we let our emotions take over, it often leads to a bad deal. We should instead focus on winning deals and not serving the needs of our own emotion.

4) Maintain An Eye On Your Back-Up Options

Having backup options will make it easier to walk away from a deal. If the terms of your current bottom line offer turn bad, you can move on and still have another option.

If you are in a sales discussion and your buyer is signaling that they may not be the right fit, it’s important to take notice. Perhaps their price point is too high or maybe they just aren’t sure if this purchase will benefit them.

If you know that your pipeline is full of prospects, then the pressure to close a deal will be lessened. You wont feel like you have to force it and might even lose some good deals because of this.

5) Reassess If It Doesnt Feel Right

If you are in the middle of a deal and it just doesnt feel right, it probably isn’t. Ask yourself whether or not your lack of confidence is what’s stopping you from closing this sale or if there really are some red flags that should be considered before moving forward.

There are many studies that show humans have a sixth sense. If you ignore the warning signs and feelings, then it will not help in the long term. You should believe your intuition if something is wrong with an individual or process – this means back out of any deal-making situation when they’re just not right.

6) Bear in Mind Your Values

It’s easy to walk away from a bad deal when you remember your personal values. What are your goals? Why did you start this journey in the first place? Who do you want to take care of and what is it that motivates them? Your family, friends or some broader societal mission?”

You know youre on the right track when a deal is no longer important. When it becomes too much of an obsession, that means your life’s mission has been forgotten and big goals are not being met.

The article mentions how to politely back out of a business deal with another company. The author, a woman named Grace Walker, offers six steps for making the withdrawal from the agreement amicable and professional.

Walking Away Negotiations: Dos and Donts

If you find yourself in a situation where the deal doesnt make sense, here are some things to do and not do.

Do: Establish a Walk Away

Never go into a deal without knowing your bottom line. This means having an idea of what the price will be and what terms you are willing to accept or reject before going in.

Do: Restriction Of Emotions

When I first began hiring salespeople, I just assumed pay along with commissions and bonuses would be enough motivation. However, people are not just motivated by money alone- they also need to feel good about themselves and their work in order to do well.

When you are competing for a sale, it is easy to become emotional. Its important not to let your emotions dictate whether or not the deal goes through because this can be detrimental in the long run.

Do: Concentrate on Winning The War, Not The Battles

Life is full of battles. Make sure you dont get caught up in each individual battle and focus on your big goals, not just winning deals.

Dont: Feel the Neccessity to Win

Many people are trapped in bad deals because they feel the need to win. They want bragging rights, and this desire for victory has caused many of them to put too much time or effort into a deal that is not working out.

Stop fighting for every single client. It will be liberating because it will give you the confidence to say no when needed.

Dont: Get Emotional About Walking Away Negotiation

Walking away from a deal can be tough, but if you label it as walking away instead of losing something then the feelings associated with failure will not come up.

If youre not comfortable with a deal, or don’t feel like it’s the right fit for your company- walk away. It may be hard to let go of an opportunity but know that you’re doing what is best for your business and always take care of yourself.

Dont: Box Yourself In

In order to avoid the pressure of a one-time deal, it is important that you know there are many paths and options available. If you keep your eyes open for other opportunities then walking away from bad deals will be easy.

Dont Lose the Big Picture

One mistake I made was thinking that closing a deal with bad prospects is good for the company. It turns out, if you are on an account management model and your customer cancels within a certain time period or even before then, it means you have to pay back all of the commission earned from this client which can put stress on other reps who may not appreciate working with these types of clients.

This just feeds into the idea that we need to keep our prices low and provide great customer service so that when a prospect calls us for additional business, they will be happy with what they get. Or if they refer their friends over who are similar prospects, it is less likely than not going to happen.

I used to think that I would lose face with my peers if I didnt close every day. But in reality, the wrong closes can actually make you look bad and drive yourself crazy at the same time.

How to Walk Away from a Business DealThe Step-by-Step Guide

Step #1: Stop, collaborate, listen

Why walking away is powerful? If you feel like something is not right, take a break and think about the big picture. Listen to your team internally for input

Ask yourself:

  • The situation has been called out as a bad one, but it can be corrected.
  • Are you in a contract?
  • What responsibilities do you have?
  • How can I help you?

When a mistake is made, it’s important to analyze the situation and figure out what went wrong. Many times there are simple fixes for these problems that can be implemented right away with just some communication.

However, if you find that your employees are not motivated by money alone then its time to have a difficult conversation about their career and what they want out of life.

Before you meet with the customer, make sure to review your contract and touchpoints. Look for ways that can benefit both parties. Get feedback from your team members before meeting.

The goal is to figure out what’s going on and then come up with a plan. The more work you do, the better chance that your coming conversation will be successful.

Step #2: Get on the phone and call a timeout

When you think things are going to fail, do not assume. Ask the right questions and try again as soon as possible before your original plan is too late.

The first step to effective sales is understanding the customers goals and priorities. This means getting a clear picture of their present needs, as well as what they would like in the future.

If you find that their needs have changed, make sure to understand why.

It is important to know that this call is not just about you. It’s also about the other person on the line, and making sure they are comfortable with your bottom line offer as well. Listen actively so there isn’t any confusion between what each of you needs.

Related: The importance of active listening in sales

Step #3: Reach a consensus and set expectations

How to walk away from it all? If after the call its clear that you and your boss are not on the same page, make sure to lay out what is bothering you before moving on.

But, never cut them off. You dont want to leave your existing customers high and dry after you have served them for years.

The customer is never wrong. If they are using your product and want to stay with it, you should be the one who makes changes in order for them to do so.

Instead of just breaking off a partnership with an employee, have a discussion about the findings and outline you built. Set up a timetable for when this will happen so that they can find another solution if needed.

When people are not being paid to help others, they often refuse to do so. This is because theres no reward in the short term.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀
Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
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