You must first be able to recognize a real commitment to be sure you are being most efficient with your time. Then you must make sure you ask enough questions to gage their commitment so you know how much time to devote to this opportunity and when. Often times they tell me they are afraid to jeopardize their good rapport by appearing “too pushy”.
Here is a situation I encounter a lot with clients who think they have commitment. I debrief with the client regarding a first meeting with a prospect. They tell me that the meeting went very well. They were able to generate good rapport and there was good discussion on the prospects needs which are a good fit for their products or services. The prospect said something encouraging like “I would like to do business with you” or “It sounds like you have just what we need”.
Then when I ask how did you leave it with them or what is the next step, they say something like, “They will call me next week after they bring it up in a meeting” or “They said they wanted to think about it for a while and will get back to me”.
It is easy for us as salespeople to be optimistic about our chances to make a sale and we need to maintain that positive attitude through the adversity. A seasoned salesperson would know that in a situation like this, you will not always receive that call back. In fact, many times it will be you that makes that follow up call and sometimes you end up having a difficult time getting reconnected or the project gets delayed for various reasons.
If a prospect really has a problem for you to solve and want your help, they will welcome a conversation about what needs to happen in order for them to solve it. It is when they have some hidden agenda that may prevent you from doing business with them that would prevent them from giving you a more firm commitment.
Set an agenda at the beginning of the meeting where you both agree on the potential outcomes for the meeting and if either one of you feel that you cannot do business; it is ok to say “no”. This will help create an environment where they are more open with the discussion and able to say so if they don’t see a fit.
If you do not close in the first meeting, understand what needs to happen between that first meeting and the time they will be able to decide and then get a commitment to work with you through that process. If you are not getting a genuine commitment to work towards a decision you should ask them about it..