The following is an excerpt from Konrath’s book Agile Selling.

Hope is rampant in sales. We need it to keep going—but we also need to avoid being fooled by false hope. The longer a deal stays in your sales pipeline, the less likely you are to ever close it, even if your prospect claims that he or she desperately needs your offering. 

Purging your pipeline regularly keeps you honest with yourself. To do so, get in touch with your long-term prospects to see what’s happening. Find out if they’re still serious about making a change, and if so, realistically when.

5 warning signs your sales opportunity won’t close.  If you experience any of these warning signs, don’t delude yourself into thinking they’ll close. If the sales process does get stalled out and you leave it in your pipeline, the only person who loses is you.

1.  Not sure when they’ll change. If they’re hemming and hawing about when they’ll change, they’re not a prospect right now.

2.  Shift in priorities. If they tell you other, more urgent priorities have emerged, they’re not going to be buying in the near future.

3.  Boss isn’t sold. If they tell you that the boss isn’t sold, it’s not likely you’ll get a signed contract anytime soon.

4.  Unresponsive. If they don’t respond to your calls or emails, take them off your prospect list right now.

5.  Interested but expecting delays. You’ll want to keep in touch if they are still very interested but projecting significant delays—but don’t count on them.

Learning to let go is an invaluable skill in this business. It keeps you realistic about the opportunities (or lack of them) in front of you. It frees up mental energy to pursue new prospects that you have a better chance of winning. It keeps you agile.

Take ten minutes right now to review that pipeline. Don’t be afraid of the purge.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.