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When it’s time for a SDR to break up with a lead

4 min readMarch 13, 2019

Just because a lead has been qualified, it doesn’t mean they are going to become a customer. Although it varies by industry, research has shown that only 20-30% of sales qualified leads (SQLs) close. That means that there are many prospects that fall out of the funnel during your sales process. It’s just as well, as the further an unqualified lead moves through your sales process, the more time and effort you’ve wasted attempting to close them.

To optimize your sales resources, you should always be on the lookout for leads that aren’t advancing through the sales process properly and remove them from your pipeline. This prevents you from wasting valuable selling time with the wrong prospects. But, how can you recognize these time-wasters and eliminate them? There are signs that reveal when it’s time to break up with a lead and move on…

The prospect is unable to answer questions

In order to properly qualify leads and determine how to best demo your solution, there are a number of details you must obtain. A qualified prospect should be able to provide those details with minimal effort on their part. This includes key information like their needs, pains, struggles, and desired results. If they continually respond with some form of “I don’t know,” you may want to carefully consider whether you should invest any more time into working with this prospect.

The prospect doesn’t understand the value

The most successful sales reps offer valuable insights to potential buyers. During your sales process, you should provide case studies, testimonials, and stories that are tailored to the lead’s particular situation. If the prospect does not grasp the value of your product or service after demos, case studies, and more, it may be time to reevaluate whether or not they belong in your pipeline.

There is however, a difference between not understanding the value, and comprehending the value, but having objections. If the prospect agrees with the value of your product but objects to the price, timing, or competitor usage, they could still be worth the effort.

They are disengaged during calls

Like any conversation, a sales call should contain a give and take between the rep and the lead. It’s best to have a balance of the rep asking questions, then listening while the lead responds and asks questions as well.

If your lead is not actively engaged, doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t provide thoughtful responses, or just sits in silence, they may not be as qualified as you originally thought. It may be a sign they’ve already made the decision not to purchase and are only collecting information to justify the selection of another solution. This sort of lead is not a good investment of your time and you need to walk away from them.

They keep postponing next steps

Actions speak louder than words. If your lead’s saying they’re interested but they aren’t willing to schedule next steps, or they keep postponing them, it’s a sure sign they aren’t really interested.

It’s also a sign that you might not be working with an actual decision maker, and you need to gain an introduction to the right person to move your deal forward. Continuing to pursue the wrong contact is a waste of your selling time.

You don’t have the right solution

If you’re with a prospect and discover your solution actually will not be a good fit or meet their needs, it’s time to walk away. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working with them. It’s best to break off the relationship as soon as you realize this. Signing the wrong customer will only lead to problems for your onboarding and support teams, lead to frustrating relationships, a churned customer, and bad word of mouth.

Your prospect is unresponsive

You qualified the lead carefully, they were engaged during the demo and the proposal went well. It seemed like the deal was going to close any day and then – crickets! There can be lots of reasons why a prospect ghosts you, but if you’ve tried all the methods of reengaging this silent contact, it may be time to stop chasing them. Ending things at this point is your best course of action.

As you work with your prospects, be aware that you can break up with a lead at any time. Be on the lookout for signs that your relationship with them may not be headed the direction you expect. The better you become at identifying these prospects and getting them out of your pipeline, the more time you will have to spend with the 20 to 30 percent of leads that are meant to close, and increase your overall sales effectiveness.