Early Warning Signs

SQC smallProblem: “What am I doing here?” Robert said to himself. He was twenty minutes into the initial meeting with this prospect, and he was clearly fighting an uphill battle. All his attempts to develop rapport were met with apathetic, almost frigid responses. His questions, simple and innocuous though they were, received little more than one or two word responses. “What’s going on here?” he wondered. This guy won’t even crack a smile and yet he gave me the appointment. Is he just having a bad day, or do I have a hygiene problem? He just couldn’t figure it out, yet he kept at it, trying to pump some life into this dying appointment. He wanted to quit, but his ego wouldn’t let him; he felt he should be able to breathe some life into this situation.

We’ve all been there. We work hard to get an appointment and are determined to take the sales process all the way through to the end, to make that “all-important” presentation. No matter what. And it almost never pays off.

Analysis: Some prospects just aren’t worth the effort. Let’s face it; there are “good” prospects…and “bad” prospects. In fact, a bad prospect is not a prospect at all. Any prospect that is antagonistic, vague and even non-communicative is a bad prospect. But salespeople, despite the obvious danger signals, are almost completely reluctant to disengage. The old “hope-a-hope-a” strategy is firmly entrenched, along with a liberal dose of denial of the obvious warning signs. This old adage comes to mind…if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. Well, if it exhibits all the initial danger signs of a bad prospect, it probably is a bad prospect.

Solution: Good prospects deserve our time and effort. The rest should be dumped like a bad habit. Every prospect should pass the first qualifying hurdle, or you must disengage quickly. There are definite warning signs and fortunately, they show up early in the process and are easily recognizable, if you know what you’re looking for. If you can’t answer positively to these four quick qualifying questions, your continued efforts with the prospect will probably be futile.

  • Is the prospect friendly?
  • Will the prospect answer your questions?
  • Will they share the information you need in order to make an informed presentation?
  • Does the prospect know what he wants?
  • Does he want it in a relatively short time frame?

If you’re getting a bunch of negative answers to the above, your prospect may simply be looking to pick your brain, and it’s probably time to say “Adios” and move on. Here’s a nice way to do it.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to help you. Generally people come to us are (pick one or two of the following) are willing to speak frankly with us about what they’re looking for, have a good understanding of what result they are looking for, or have a compelling enough reason to take action.

That doesn’t seem to be the case here, for whatever reason. Would you like me to make a suggestion as to a company that might be better suited to your needs?”

If that honest and polite remark won’t motivate your prospect to open up, it’s best to move on…quickly.

Good Selling!!