When do you tell the prospect that you aren’t a fit?

Customer: We have this hypervisor in our environment, it is what EVERYTHING runs on. We have this pain and are looking to do this other thing…

Me: Option 1 – We don’t support that hypervisor natively as well as we support other things but we can help you in these ways….

Me: Option 2 – Cool, let me show you all that we can do…

So there I was. I know that telling the truth “We don’t support that” is a risk.


  • The meeting might end right then and there
  • We may make them feel that we wasted their time
  • We may not uncover additional opportunity
  • The AE may not want to call that out and you’d have an awkward walk back to your cars

But, there are PROS:

  • The meeting might end! Qualify OUT, right?!
  • We don’t end up wasting anyone’s time
  • We show that we are not going to “try to sell” them on something that would not fit
  • We might earn their respect for being honest

So… There I was, just heard that they run on a platform that we do not support like others, dramatically diminishing our value (initially).

My approach was simple: be curious and consultative. I asked a few more questions. Things like, what ELSE have you looked at? Why wouldn’t that option work? How are you tackling this today?

It turns out that the customer didn’t EXPECT us to be able to support the hypervisor natively, at least not in a new-fangled way.

Once I realized that THEY knew that no one else could cover their hypervisor, I let it out… tactfully. It came out something like:

OK, while we do not support your hypervisor like we do say, VMWare, here is how we can help

I went on to highlight several other benefits our solutions offers and probed for more pain. By the end, we all agreed that we have a viable option and setup our next steps together. Good meeting… 🙂

Now, later the AE and I spoke on it and I realized that we haven’t encountered that together yet and that it might be a good idea to agree on how to approach it in the future. What worked for us was to be honest, forthright AND still tie our benefits to other pains – starting with honesty first.

Being a SE is an art and science. We are in sales so we are motivated to gain a technical win and a deal. But we are also technical and sometimes, we can be abrupt, “too honest” or be emotionally tied to details. We have to balance the personality and nature of our sales counterparts while appropriately representing what our technology can do. it’s a dichotomy for sure.

How would you have handled this situation?