Get That Prospect Off Your List!

By Geoffrey James

August 12th, 2009 @ 11:30 am

Congratulations! You've got a real live prospect on the line. Your first task is to start selling, right? WRONG! At the very beginning of the sales cycle, your most important task is to find out if you can eliminate the prospect completely from your to-do list.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Many sales pros (particularly novices) are so thrilled simply to be talking to a real live prospect that they don't want to burst the happy bubble. So they pretend that the mere fact that a prospect has shown a little interest (by not hanging up) means that they're a potential customer.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There are at least half-a-dozen reasons a prospect might show interest but never buy. For instance, the prospect may:
  1. feel bored or lonely and just want to talk to somebody.
  2. hope to have the offering…someday in the far future.
  3. be looking for a catspaw to play against your competitor.
  4. be confused about their firm's real needs.
  5. think your pricey offering fits within their teeny budget.
  6. be looking for new contacts for a future job hunt.
Look, the last thing that you want to do with your valuable time is to waste it on somebody who's NOT going to buy.

So it's a BIG WIN for you whenever you eliminate a prospect from your to-do list. And it's an even BIGGER WIN if you can do this within the first five minutes of talking to the prospect. Here's what you need to know:

  • Do they really need your offering?
  • Is the financial impact big enough to justify a purchase?
  • How do they buy this kind of product?
  • Do they have a budget or can one be secured?
  • What's their time frame for addressing this issue?
  • Who says "Yes" and who can say "No"?
If you can't get a decent answer — or a process to get an answer — to any of these questions, then you're WASTING YOUR TIME.

On the other hand, if you can get answers — or a process in place to get those answers, you've got a real opportunity.

But let's be clear: if that prospect ain't gonna buy, you wanna exit ASAP.