When To Walk Away From A Sale

When it comes to enterprise products, knowing when to walk away from a sale is as important as is to know when to pursue one.    This is tough because every sale looks valuable.  But sometimes you are actually better off without the sale. 

Unreasonable demands, changing goalposts 

If the prospect makes unreasonable demands or keeps changing requirements throughout the deal cycle you may to step back and think whether this deal will work out.   Will this customer go live? Are there too many conflicting voices here?  Some organizations just have a culture of being unreasonable with vendors. 

In such cases you may want to modify your strategy and be smart about what to offer and what to hold back.  You must bargain judiciously throughout the sales cycle.  Be emotionally detached from such campaigns so that you can walk away if required. 


You spend so much energy and attention on taking a customer go live.  Often this effort is disproportionate to the revenue from the customer.  This is because you want each implementation to be a reference case for future sales.  Does this look likely in this case?  If not, you want to reconsider the sale or at least relook at the overall value of the project.   Too often the line ‘this is a strategic sale’ is used to give the prospect undue discounts and attention.  You need to be hard-nosed about this. 

Hobby Project 

This has been seen in several AI projects.  The real intent of the project may be to give the CTO something to brag about, or to shore up his performance metrics for the year.  In such cases you will see that the customer insists on a low value “pilot” project.  If you sense a weak ‘intent to go live’, you want to be careful about time and effort spent.  May be enough reason to walk away. 

Product Integrity 

When a prospect asks for changes that may severely impact your product road map, you want to ask yourself if it is really worth it.  It may be value add to your product or it may destroy it. 


This a huge red flag.  When a prospect asks for blanket exclusivity is a straight forward reason to walk away.  Even partial, time-bound exclusivity conditions must be looked at with caution. 


Sometimes prospects demand that ‘their ideas’ must be their IP.  This can create a serious problem for you in the market.  Also consider that investors will look askance at such contracts. 

Unlimited Liability 

When prospects demand unlimited liability for business deliverables or third party action, you have to say a straight ‘No’.  Again, this condition will destroy value in the eyes of your investors.   

Walking away is never easy.  It takes conviction and self-belief.  The surest way to make this a little easier is to have a strong pipeline.