Pursue or Pivot: Knowing When To Let a Lead Go

By Luke Kallner
Nov 6 2023 read

When you’re passionate about the impact of the services you provide, you have an innate desire to serve as many people as you can. That’s a noble instinct. But in your quest to convert every lead, you could be wasting valuable resources. 

Especially if you wear multiple hats in your organization, you can’t afford to sell from a place of desperation. Instead, practice filling your pipeline with more potential and trying again when you disqualify a lead or when what you thought was a promising relationship with a prospect goes south.

Understanding the Law of Replacement

Part of what’s so hard about having a sales conversation go cold is not knowing when the next opportunity will come along. To get to a place where you can handle closing the door on some, you need to know you’ll have another chance at bat soon after.

In reality, there will always be another opportunity, but you have to go out and find it. That’s the idea behind a concept called the Law of Replacement.

Law of Replacement = A sales principle originated by Jeb Blount that says you must replace the prospects in your pipeline at a rate that is equal to or greater than your closing rate

Although this might make you feel pressured to try to sell to anyone and everyone, this law is actually a reminder not to get trapped in the tunnel vision of chasing after one potential client who’s resisting if there are other, easier leads to grab. 

Emotional Attachment: The Roadblock

You may spend an exorbitant amount of time, energy and resources trying to convert someone who’s showing little interest, only to have them back out mid-project or not renew a contract because they aren’t happy. If you were to rewind that scenario, you’d probably tell yourself not to bother. But in the moment, why does it feel so hard to let go of new business?

The answer is not the first thing that may come to mind: money. It’s much deeper than that. You’re attached to the chase.

Our emotions play a pivotal role in everything we do, but they can be more pronounced in challenging or stressful situations. Sales can trigger strong emotional responses in many of us because it requires having conversation after conversation trying to persuade someone that you can deliver on what you promise. 

If it seems like they aren’t interested, you might feel:

  • Embarrassed
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Withdrawn
  • Ignored
  • Sad
  • Or any number of other emotions!

While these are normal reactions, they can stand in the way of making the decision that’s best for your business, which is sometimes to simply walk away.

READ NEXT: 5 Powerful Tips for Prospecting on LinkedIn

4 Steps for Managing Emotions in the Sales Process

Here are four actionable steps to help you stay aware and harness your emotions constructively as you move a lead through each sales stage.

1. Recognize your triggers

All of us have unique triggers that can snap us out of the logical brain and into the monkey mind. It could be that you get set off by the feeling of rejection, something specific a prospect says or the thought of losing in general. The first step in getting clarity about when to proceed or give up on a sale is to develop this self-awareness.

2. Avoid equating success with self-worth

Another common hurdle is the tendency to think that your ability to win a given sale says something about your worth as a person. A lead not converting is not a reflection of your capabilities. There are so many reasons a deal could go cold, and sometimes, your service is the right solution at the wrong time. 

3. Embrace detachment

There’s a difference between being passionate about securing a client and being emotionally attached. Passion drives you to offer the best service and showcase how you can add value. Emotional attachment, on the other hand, can cloud your judgment, making you pursue leads that are not a good fit or overlook red flags.

4. Practice active listening

By genuinely listening to a potential client’s needs, concerns and feedback, you gain a clearer perspective. It allows you to assess whether your services align with their needs or if it’s time to part ways graciously.

Practical Sales Tactics To Support the Wins

Some leads just aren’t a good fit, and you’ll ideally narrow your pool in the qualification process. Fit aside, you should still put your best foot forward in trying to win as many deals as possible. 

Consistently improving your sales skills will help you stay confident that the ones you don’t win aren’t because of a failure on your part.

Try the following.

  • Disciplined qualifying: Are you focusing on leads whose needs and demographics or firmographics align with your offerings? If you’re already doing a lot of convincing in the first call or two, let that be a warning that you could risk wasting time on this one.
  • Stage tracking: Without defined sales stages, you might have a lot of variation in how you qualify leads and how much you share with prospects — and when. This can make it tough to make a decision about your next move. Instead, your sales journey could look nice and predictable.
  • Automated sales: Have you calculated how much money your most recent lost sale cost you? Reduce that burden (and your worry) by replacing redundant tasks with smart sales automations.

From the Desk of a Solutions Consultant

In my time as a Solutions Consultant, I’ve encountered clients who seem like great fits at first but approach calls with a preconceived notion that they need particular Accelo features plus lots of other platforms to integrate. 

Once I hear about their challenges, I realize they may not require what they think they do to build successful client work management processes. It can be hard not to get attached to what I believe they need — and to realize they may never come to agree with me.

To stay in my role as a compassionate guide and support for my fellow sales team members, I focus on consulting with them from a place of honesty, even if that means downsizing their initial request or concluding that they may not be ready for the tool consolidation potential that Accelo offers. It can be painful having that break-up conversation or sending them off to a competitor, but it’s ultimately comforting to know I’m giving them a chance find something that works better for them.


On to Bigger Opportunities

Corny as it may be, it’s true what they say: When one door closes …

While it can be disappointing to lose out on a sale, you could use it as fuel to go after even bigger and more aligned opportunities. Don’t dwell on the missed chances. Redirect that energy and focus on learning from the experience.

Keep growing your sales know-how with these quick sales process tips


About the Author


Luke Kallner is a Solutions Consultant at Accelo, where he consults with potential clients on how they could use Accelo to run their businesses more effectively and efficiently. Having been with Accelo for two years, he has in-depth knowledge of the platform and each product’s capabilities. Luke started as a Sales Development Representative and has been promoted internally on two occasions.

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