Retract or Hope

Last week, I met with a prospect that called me to schedule the meeting. He’d seen me speak recently and wanted to figure out if we could help him. After we met, I sent him an email that essentially recapped the meeting and reminded him of two of the issues that I expected his evaluation to show. Yesterday, I called him and after the small talk asked are you ready to tell me, “No.” He wouldn’t say, “Yes.” He wouldn’t say, “No.” He wanted to say, “No for now.” I told him that I had to turn his “no for now” into a “no”, period and we ended the call.

I followed up with this email:


Per our conversation yesterday, I’m retracting my evaluation offer and closing your file.

Should you decide differently in the future, feel free to call.

Rick Roberge

To which he replied:


Thanks for the follow up. I do have a question and maybe it might be a good one for your blog if you haven’t covered it before.

What is the purpose of telling the prospective future customer that you are retracting the offer and closing his file? I can see the logic for you to close the file (on the list…off the list) but why tell the prospect that you are retracting an offer for your product or service? It seems like a big risk because it might be interpreted as you no longer want the prospect’s business.



It’s actually pretty simple. Yes, I want it off my desk and out of my mind so I can move on, but more importantly, I want it off your desk and out of your mind. I don’t want you to have to avoid me because you think that I’m hoping that you will someday say, “Yes”, and you don’t want to hurt my feelings by saying, “No.”

Additionally, what if I don’t retract the offer and the price goes up, or I don’t have time to deliver, or we have some other reason for not wanting to honor the offer. It’s best from a legal/practical point of view to just retract or revoke the offer. The last line of my retraction, “Should you decide differently in the future, feel free to call.” allows me to re-offer, or change the offer or even not offer if the prospect should ever come back.

Finally, and this is the real issue. Many salespeople have beliefs which do not support the sales process. One of those self-limiting beliefs is, “Prospects that think it over will eventually buy from me”. I don’t know how to say this, but I’ve been selling for a long time. The number of people who didn’t buy from me the first time I closed is at least 100 times larger than the people that bought when I closed the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or nth time or came back after I gave up and said, “OK. I’m ready now.” combined. The law of averages says, “It’s over.” I’ll go with that.

Bottom line is that not all suspects become prospects. Not all prospects become qualified. Not all qualified prospects become customers and not all customers become evangelists. If you’ve never had an evangelist, then you don’t know that the evangelists make it all worthwhile. Once you’ve had an evangelist, you may get spoiled and begin to accept only evangelists. Liars, procrastinators, non-follow-throughers, even regular customers just don’t cut it.


I hope this helps.

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