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Gerry Weinberg & Associates, Inc. | Southfield, Michigan


“How,” asked Tim in a voice filled with despair, “do you manage to sell to any of the turkeys that we wind up facing?”

“By turkeys,” responded Wendi, “you mean the prospects?”

Tim glanced over to her sitting at her desk and rolled his eyes.  Then, with a wave of his hand, “No, the highly qualified leads that get dumped on our laps.  The great success in calling people on the phone.  The marvelous adventures of asking existing customers for referrals, most of whom, at that moment, seem to lose all ability to think of anyone.  When they do think of someone, that someone acts as if I were Dr. Death making an office call to collect.  Yeah, the prospects.”

Wendi thought for a moment of just brushing Tim off with a quick comment that would sound like she agreed with him.  How often, she thought to herself, had she also had the same picture of prospects.  But, before she could, Tim went on.

“You know what the biggest problem is?” he asked, and before she could even ask what, he went on.  “This company doesn’t support us the way it should.  Sure, they send us to seminars, reimburse us for sales books, but no support where it counts.”

“That would be . . .” asked Wendi.

“The absolute lack of qualified prospects.  Really, I’ve got to ask, how do you manage to close any of them?  They’re worse than, well, you know what.”

What difference does it make, thought Wendi, Tim won’t last another two months anyway.  “Tim, two years ago I decided, and I don’t remember why, that there is no such thing as a bad prospect.  If I caught myself saying a prospect was bad, I’d turn around and find out what I did or didn’t do that prevented the close.  You’re in a mental trap and if you don’t get out of it, you’ll be history here.  Worse, you’ll never make it in sales.  Anywhere.”

“Thanks, Wendi, I really need to be kicked when I’m down.  Appreciate the help.  Here, take my pile of undesirable aliens, otherwise known as prospects.”

“You need to hear it, Tim.  Stop blaming others for your lack of results.  Keep your pile.  I’m mining mine.”

Wendi makes money.  Tim is blaming others for not making money.  Odd, they both work in the same company.

How often have you heard the lament of a poorly performing salesperson saying that if only he could find a greater quantity of qualified prospects, his sales would zoom.  The unstated presumption behind this statement is that it’s not his fault at all he isn’t selling, it’s the fault of the company he works for.  Harsh?  Consider the next lament usually paired with the lack of qualified prospects.

If only the company would advertise or do better marketing, qualified prospects would find him.  Not that he would have to find them, they would find him. Sometimes this comes out as “If only the company supported its sales force better . . .”

The mental framework this salesperson operates from is that he is just an intermediary between the prospect and the company.  His role is simply the person who, once the qualified prospect is present, takes money in exchange for goods or services.

If, in fact, the product or service was so good and solved so much prospect pain that qualified prospects beat a path to the door of the company, then why bother with salespeople at all?  All the company would need to do would be to hire order takers at minimum wage.

You must incorporate into your picture of yourself as a salesperson that prospecting is part of your responsibility.  Prospects are negative, positive, or neutral.  Each prospect type can be approached to determine if his pain is great enough and a budget is in place to solve his pain with your product.

Negative prospects, if you agree with them by responding with questions that restate their negative comments, are the easiest to close.  Positive prospects, if you don’t allow yourself to be caught up in their tide of good feelings, are the second easiest to sell.  Neutral prospects need to be nudged into a negative frame of mind and then be allowed to sell themselves.

Bad prospects do not exist except in the mind of salespeople who are looking for an excuse for nonperformance.  As simplistic as it sounds, when you hear yourself saying aloud or silently that this prospect or that prospect is bad, catch yourself.  Pause.  Recast your prospect as being negative, positive, or neutral.  Proceed from there.

How you view your prospects determines precisely how much money you will make.

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