The Prospect’s First Test

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 non-communicative is a bad prospect.   But salespeople, despite the obvious danger signals, are usually reluctant to disengage from bad prospects.  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 warning signs of a bad prospect, it probably is a bad prospect.

The good ones deserve our time and effort.  The rest should be dumped like a bad habit.

Our experience is that during the first meeting with a prospective client we usually have a gut feeling about whether or not there might be an opportunity.  Certainly pain, money, and authority are important, but there are other indicators that you should be aware of.  Fortunately they show up early in the process and are easily to recognize, if you know what you’re looking for.  These simple rhetorical qualifying questions will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not your prospect is a “good” prospect.  If you can’t answer positively to at least half of them, you might want to re-examine whether or not continued efforts with the prospect will be worthwhile.

Here they are…

  • Are they friendly?
  • Will they have an open dialogue with you and answer your questions?
  • Do they know what they want?
  • Will they give you access to the decision maker (if you’re not at that level already)?
  • Is the timing of the opportunity favorable for your business objectives?
  • Will they work with you on an exclusive or semi-exclusive basis, or is this opportunity going “out to bid”?

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

“I might be off base here, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to help you.  Generally the folks we work with are willing to speak frankly with us about what they’re looking for…(have a good understanding of what they need, etc.)  That doesn’t seem to be the case here, for whatever reason.  Maybe this just isn’t a good time for us to continue talking.”

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

Self-Study Assignment:  Go through your prospect funnel and identify those “prospects” that are exhibiting the above danger signals.  Develop a strategy to eliminate as many danger signals as possible or get them out of your sales funnel.