Fire That Prospect!

One of the things we continue to impress upon our coaching clients is how to qualify prospects. More succinctly; how do you know when to fire a prospect? Undoubtedly, this is our most difficult decision. When do you walk away from a prospect? Here are some tell-tale signs that will help you make that decision.

  1. Too focused on price. Price eventually will enter into the conversation. The problem arises when it becomes the first topic of discussion. That suggests your prospect has already decided on a supplier and now is just shopping for the lowest dollar. Here’s a good qualifying question if you suspect a decision has already been made. “Is price going to be the only consideration in your buying decision? Or, are you open to finding a solution that will best address your needs?”
  2. Everything looks good; then it doesn’t. You made a great presentation, you had productive discussions with good questions from both sides and everything was looking positive. Suddenly, the prospect goes dark. Your messages go unanswered. Frustration is running rampant. You don’t want to assume the worst immediately, but if your prospect was ready to buy and now is not, you deserve the courtesy of being told there is a change in direction. It could be budgetary or personnel issues, but if they value your partnership, they should keep you in the loop and allow you the opportunity to adjust to the new challenges.
  3. Non Responsive. It’s important that you and your prospect engage in a good give and take of information. Both of you need to determine if there is a good fit for your product/service and if, in fact, there is a good business fit for your two organizations to work together. If during your presentation you have a prospect who asks no questions, exhibits no curiosity and says only “hello” and “good-bye”, they are not engaged now and are likely to maintain that disengagement for a long, long time.
  4. Blah, blah, blah. The opposite is equally true. The prospect who does all the talking and never quite gets to the point of engaging in pertinent discussion is a problem. We need solid give and take to arrive at the best solution. If they are unwilling to listen to your solutions, they surely won’t listen to your recommendations on implementation.
  5. You can’t get past Step One. If you cannot get even the smallest of commitments, such as what is the target for implementation, who will be involved in the decision making and what does success look like. You are probably talking to the wrong person, or there is no valid project and nothing is going to happen.

As a sales professional, your knowledge and time are your most valuable assets. Yes, you want the sale, but some prospects are just not a good investment. You may have the perfect solution, but if your prospect will not engage, the likelihood of a successful conclusion becomes very remote.

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