Saying No to Prospects

Saying No to Prospects

No matter how good our targeting is, when you start to scale it’s impossible for every single lead to be a perfect fit. That doesn’t mean the leads aren’t any good. Many will still close and help you grow the business.

However, there are leads that are a bad fit and you need to say “No” to those leads as soon as possible.

We are going to look at identifying these leads, how to say “No” and how to get less “No’s” over time.

Are Bad Leads Hurting My Business?

It can be easy to think “Are these bad leads really hurting me? I’m still working on lots of good opportunities.”  

Even in a best case scenario like this one, the bad leads are hurting your business and they are costing you money.

All of the following will cost your business money and if these are the source of your lead they have a cost associated.

  • Content Production
  • Paid Ads
  • Prospecting Time
  • Account Management Time
  • SEO Optimization
  • Any Other Lead Generation Activity
  • Taking the Place of a High Quality Lead

The longer you stay engaged with a bad lead the greater the cost.

How to identify bad leads.

For most scenarios, the first three high level steps of a lead generation process look like this:

  • We have many different lead generation activities.
  • Potential prospects take an action. Such as requesting a demo, free trial or consultation before we have a prospecting call.
  • In this short space of time, you have 3 potential opportunities to remove bad leads. We will go through each of them.

Lead Generation Activities

“Lead Generation Activities” is an umbrella term for any activities that develop leads for your business. These can include paid ads, organic search, conferences, networking events and many other options.

You can reduce the number of “No’s” you get, by refining your Lead Generation Activities.

I will show you how this is possible, using organic search and paid ads.

Organic Search

When looking at organic search, you can analyze which keywords are driving lead generation. You can then analyze these leads for quality.

Do certain keywords drive higher or lower quality leads? Analyze the data and feed this back into your SEO strategy.

Paid Ads

With Paid Ads, there are two main tactics you can employ to improve your results. Analysis of Data and Uploading Lists.

By analyzing your different campaigns, you can see how successful they are in delivering high quality leads for your business. Compare your most successful campaigns to identify which targeting works best.

Secondly, you can upload lists of your best customers and leads. Depending on the numbers available, you can segment your list by Lifetime Value or Interest and upload your most valuable customers.

By using this information, you can create more detailed targeting based solely on the people you want to attract.

You may choose to use interests of your list. If you provide different products or services and want to target the most engaged people for each.

Prospecting Call

The aim of the Prospect Call, can determine whether or not the prospect’s a good fit for what you’re offering.

By its nature, it provides you with an opportunity to remove bad prospects from the sales process.

Here are some of the questions I like to have answered on my prospecting calls.

  • What is their key problem?
  • Who is the point of contact?
  • Who would be involved in any purchasing decisions?
  • Who would be involved in implementing the software (SAAS)?
  • Why did they get in touch?
  • Who do they target?
  • Do they have target messaging?
  • What’s their average deal size?
  • What are their previous marketing efforts and results?
  • What category/Industry they work in?
  • What’s the Company Revenue?

Not all of these questions may be relevant to your business but you should be able to see what I am trying to achieve. Which is a clearer understanding of the company, can we help them and how would we close a deal?

A big mistake that people make at this stage, is to continue to move prospects through the sales cycle even though that prospect is a bad fit.

Examples May Include:

  • Their revenue means they cannot afford what you offer.
  • Their average deal size will make it very hard to see a ROI.
  • They are the wrong industry.
  • There is lack of maturity within the organization.
  • You can’t/don’t fix their key problem.

How to Say “No!”

Saying “No” is never easy. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it. If you do it right, the client will respect your honesty. Do it wrong, and you risk offending people.

The simplest way to say “No” to people, is to be honest. Here is an example email that I have used to say “No.”

Hi (Name)

Thank you for speaking with me on Monday and helping me learn more about (Company Name).

After reviewing all of the information you provided, I cannot recommend you moving forward with Straight Talk.

At this stage, bringing on any additional wages or fees is not in the best interest of your business.

However, I can completely understand your situation and will gladly point you in the right direction. I can recommend some free content, that I believe will help you.

  • Link 1
  • Link 2
  • Link 3

Please feel free to email me with any questions,


Be honest with people and have their best interests at heart.  Continuing with a prospect, when you know it is not the right fit, will be a bad situation for everyone in the long term.


Get Less “No’s” Over Time:

Once you are actively tracking the “No’s” that you are receiving, you can start to improve them. In this case that means less “No’s.”

The way to reduce the “No’s” over time is to review them each month and look for trends. For example, do most of your “No’s” come from companies that are too small? Are they not technically mature enough to use your software?

Once you understand the “No’s”, you can do one or two things about it.

  1.  Create a product or service for that market.
  2.  Adjust your lead generation targeting to exclude this audience.

Over time, this will improve the quality of your lead generation, reduce wasted time and increase profits.

headshot of Dan Wheatley, Straight Talk Consulting founder

By Dan Wheatley, Co-Founder

CEO/Co-Founder of Straight Talk Consulting, a business consultancy that gets our hands dirty. We work with organisations to achieve product market fit before transitioning into scalable and repeatable growth