We’ve all faced it. (And if you haven’t yet, I promise you will.) At some point during your life as a business owner you will encounter the prospective client that, for whatever the reason, strings you along.

It might be because they are someone who always struggles to make a decision. Or perhaps they cringe at the idea of telling you the answer is no, so they’d rather push that conversation further and further into the future. Or maybe there are complicated internal politics or dynamic budget issues at work, and they are trying to navigate those challenges.

Here’s the thing. The reason really doesn’t matter all that much. What does matter is that as long as YOU are emotionally attached to their decision — the lack of closure will continue to sap your valuable energy that could be better invested elsewhere. So let’s look at 5 steps you can take to get a prospect off the fence and to a decision… whatever that decision might be!

Step 1. Re-evaluate if you really want to work with this client. Before you go any further, step back and get clear on exactly why you want to work with this person or company. Do you FEAR you won’t find another client? Are there any other red flags telling you this will be a difficult client to manage? Or by all other counts does this prospect promise to be a great client in the long run?

In my seven years as an entrepreneur, I’ve never been shocked by a “client from hell.” There have ALWAYS been early warning signs that I chose to ignore. So if you’ve got any concerns, it’s best to walk away early on.

Step 2. Get the prospect on the phone or to a face-to-face meeting. Assuming that yes, you do indeed want to work with this person or company (not based on fear), recognize that sending emails will NOT bring them to a decision. You need to regain control of the sales process by scheduling a face-to-face meeting or, at the very least, get them on the phone. Here’s a starter script to use in your voicemail or email:

“Joe, I know how busy you are these days, and I don’t want to become a pest. Can we schedule a specific time that works for you in order to talk about the status of the XYZ proposal? My goal isn’t to close the sale, but to simply bring closure regardless of what you decide.”

Step 3. Get to their real objection. This is super important. Once you get your client on the phone or to a face-to-face meeting, your next move is to unearth their REAL objection. Start by re-establishing their original goal. “Joe, last we talked, you were focused on growing your revenues by 10%. Is that still your goal?”

Assuming the original goal you were going to help them with is still a priority, then dig a little deeper to find out what’s holding up the decision. However, don’t stop with their first response. If your prospect says, for example, that budget is the problem, then respond by asking, “Joe, if we were able to make the budget issue go away, would there be anything else standing in the way of us moving forward?” By asking this, you’re able to get to the bottom of things.

Step 4. When possible, co-create a solution with your client. You’re in a much better position once you know what’s truly stopping your client from moving forward. Sometimes you’ll discover the situation is out of your control and you’ll be able to proceed to step 5. Other times, however, you’ll find that your client really wants to work with you, but there’s a legitimate challenge. Depending on what the particular challenge is, you might be able to work out a win-win solution.

Step 5. Walk decisively away. There’s a great line in the song “Freewill” by Rush: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” That goes not only for your client — but for you as well. At the end of the day, if your client cannot make a decision then you must make it for them. As long as you hold out hope, you’re holding onto blocked energy. And as long as you do that, nothing else will be able to come into that space. Without fail, you’ll find that when you definitively close the door on a “dead” opportunity, something even more amazing will materialize almost instantaneously. Just like magic.

Author's Bio: 

Known as The Corporate Agent, Angelique Rewers, ABC, APR, teaches micro business owners and solopreneurs around the world how to grow their small business by working with Big Business. Get her FREE CD and articles at www.TheCorporateAgent.com.