Problem: Jeremy called the other day for some coaching on a very familiar problem. He had just made a presentation to a prospect and received the same response he had heard so many times recently. You’ve probably heard the same thing, or something similar. “Thanks for the proposal. Appreciate you coming in. We’ll give it some consideration and let you know.” The prospect seems bored by the whole interaction, and deep down you know that the chances of getting some business are pretty slim. More time wasted. Do you recognize this scenario?
Analysis: Salespeople continually spend far too much time with prospects that are, to put it simply, not worth the time of day. The warning signs are there, but they are ignored. They play ball hoping they’ll get lucky and find some business. This happens primarily because salespeople typically don’t do enough prospecting and are desperate to meet with anybody. Their primary strategy is hope.
Solution: You need to be able to size up your prospect quickly. Your time is valuable; an hour or two a day wasted on a bad prospect cannot be replaced. It’s gone forever. And prospects think nothing about wasting your time. They want your information and don’t care one iota about the agony they might be putting you through with their antics.
So before you decide to invest any serious time with a prospect, ask yourself if they pass the first test – your first test. If you can honestly answer yes to the following five questions, then they most definitely have earned the right to your time. If not, move on.
- Are they friendly and willing to talk?
- Will they answer your questions?
- Do they know what they want?
- Do they want it in a reasonable time frame?
- Are they willing to work with just a couple of potential companies (as opposed to putting it “out to bid” with as many vendors as possible) to look for a solution to their business challenges? (By the way, working with you exclusively gets extra points.)
Seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? And if you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you’ve run into plenty of prospects who aren’t very friendly, won’t answer your questions, don’t seem to know what they want or when they want it, and will solicit bids from everyone is sight. Gotta love ’em, don’t ya?
Any prospect needs to earn your continued involvement with them. It’s not a one-way street.
The two most valuable currencies people have are their time and money. People have to give you their time before they give you their money. The amount of time is usually associated with the amount of money.
Since this is true, how do you engage people to invest their time with you? For example, I send new prospects a checklist related to the topic I engaged them with and I ask them to send that to me before we talk… an investment of their time.
If they don’t pass the five questions listed above or if you have a pre-meeting exercise for them to complete and they don’t, you might want to invest your time with someone else. One of my beliefs that helps me follow through with this is to reject them before they reject you.
Don’t hang in there with them hoping that they will turn into a great prospect, because they probably won’t. Disengage quickly and move on to someone who can pass the test. There are plenty of good prospects out there that will value what you bring; you just need to find them.