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How to Handle Difficult Prospects: Why Prospects Are Like Produce

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 03, 2020

Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

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Ways of Dealing with a Difficult Prospect

Sometimes, reaching out to prospects is like pulling teeth.  

Some prospects are difficult because they don't understand the value of what you have to offer, while others simply do not want to be bothered by a salesperson right now.  

No matter the reason, you still need leads and so being able to move forward with a prospect

 

Not Every Prospect has the Same "Shelf Life"

Prospects- they have a shelf life and can have thick skin, just like fruits and vegetables.

Some of them last longer than others. 

While some produce is ripe for the picking, and others have a toughness to them.

Bananas – not so long, apples and mandarins- a little longer, potatoes and squash- they'll last the longest. 

The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either pick them now or find a way to preserve them for later.

Below, we'll give you some tips on how to help deal with some of those more difficult prospects and in hopes to get them closer to the sale.

 

How to Deal with Difficult Prospects

Practice Actively Listening

Listening is one of the most important, yet underrated forms of communication.

When people think of listening, they generally associate it with silence or not talking at all.

However, that is not completely correct.

Active listening means that you are trying to understand what someone is saying rather than just wait for your turn to talk.

It takes practice but can be a great tool for not only for your sales profession, but in any conversation in the future.

 

Practice the Beginner's Mind

The beginner’s mind — also known as the zen mind — is a strategy of approaching every situation as if you were starting from scratch.

When you open yourself up to the beginner's mind, your perspective on everything can change.

When we adopt this way of thinking, it becomes easier for us to enter conversations without any preconceived notions or prejudices about our prospects and their situations; instead focusing solely on what they are saying while putting ourselves in their shoes.

Instead of telling yourself "the prospect should have known this", or "they should have called me back by now", put yourself in the beginner's mindset and it becomes easier to recognize that no one is perfect and you can tailor your approach to better accomodate.

 

"Chunk" Your Problems

Chunking is the process of taking one big problem and breaking it into several smaller, more manageable portions.

These small pieces are easier for us to tackle because they allow our brain time-out from thinking about all those difficult details while still moving forward with progress made on previous sections!

Chunks can also be used strategically when coming up against challenging problems--chances are if given several tasks in order then maybe we'll find an issue that needs addressing immediately or at least feel less overwhelmed by responsibility alone.

 

 

Don't let Prospects Perish

Here is the point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with prospects that aren’t quite ready or are already past their prime time for consumption. You may experience:

  • That the prospect is too "green"
  • They just opened a new account with their bank partner
  • Just renewed their insurance
  • Their lease expires in 11 months

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects and work with them on solving their problem. Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready.

 

For more online sales resources, check out some of our other sales articles over at our Sales Brew.

If interested in sales training or sales coaching, we have a dedicated professional team of sales experts that can help drive better sales performance and build better sales teams.

Contact us today to learn more!

Topics: prospecting skills, improving sales results, increase sales, qualifying sales prospects, contacting prospects

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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.

     

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