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“Thanks for your consideration.” In sales, those words are effectively a white flag. They signal a competitor has won the business, and it’s time for you to pack it up and head home. But before you call it a day or ask them what you did wrong, consider these alternative follow-ups and the opportunities they present.

After all, you’re in sales for a reason; and it’s not because you give up easily. These four ways to say, “Thank you for your consideration,” help you identify your next move.

1. “Have you actually executed the contract yet?”

You’d be surprised how often a prospect will tell you they’ve chosen another supplier before actually signing a contract. If they reply, “Well, the contract is with our legal department,” or “We’re just waiting on the final documents to be sent over,” the deal isn’t done. Check with your manager and, when appropriate, consider offering a big discount. In this scenario, you’ve already lost the upper hand. Your prospect knows you’re desperate, so trying to short change them on price or remain coy about what you can offer is futile. Offer them your biggest discount to try to jolt them into reconsidering you.

And be willing to walk away if your manager says no to a price cut. You’ve got better things to do than beg for business with nothing left to bargain with.

2. “Price and terms aside, which supplier had the best solution?”

Many salespeople use this time to ask, “Is there anything we could have done better?” or “Were there features we were missing that gave [Competitor] the upper hand?” Don’t do this. What prospect, after working up the courage to tell you they’re going with a competitor, is going to tell you your shortcomings?

Instead, ask, “I appreciate you letting me know. Can I ask, pricing and terms aside, which supplier had the best solution?” This gives you helpful, honest information, without putting your prospect on the spot. Hopefully, you’re able to end the moment by having them say something positive about you, and you might get some valuable competitive insight.

And if they think the competitor’s product is better, say, “I appreciate the opportunity to compete,” and move on. When your prospect has done their due diligence and selected another vendor, you must honour that decision.

If you’re looking for feedback on what you could have done differently or better, talk to current clients. They’re invested in your product/service improving and are motivated to give you the hard feedback you need.

3. “Can I give you a call in 12 weeks to see how the transition went?”

Another trap I see salespeople fall into is trying to re-engage with prospects six months after they’ve chosen another vendor. It’s a waste of time. Best case scenario: the prospect is unhappy but can’t sign with another company due to their contract, which is likely at least one-year long. It also sends the message that you have enough free time to reconnect with closed-lost business. Why are you honouring dead deals instead of pursuing new ones? Apply your determination and drive to new business instead.
What you can ask during the initial breakup conversation is, “Would it be alright for me to touch base in 12 weeks to see how the transition went?” Follow that up with, “If you tell me it went well, you won’t hear from me again. If it didn’t go well, I’d love another chance to win your business, when your contract is up.”

This sets expectations you’re not lurking in the corner waiting for them to need you again. Instead, it’s straightforward and reinforces you care about their best interest and success.

4. “Thank you for the opportunity to earn your business.”

If it doesn’t look like a deal will move forward, sincerely thank the prospect for their time. Take it as an opportunity to let them know that you’re there to help address any questions or issues in the future. Just because you won’t be working with them right now, doesn’t mean they won’t come back when the time is right. With this message, you further develop your position as a trusted advisor and end your correspondence on a good note.

If you lose a deal to another vendor, you’ve lost a full sales cycle. The only thing worse than putting three months into a dead deal is putting three months and one day into a dead deal. A new outreach call is better than nursing a lost opportunity. So, when in doubt, turn to these four alternatives to “Thank you for your consideration,” and move on to bigger and better things.

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