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A Frustrating Problem Costing You Time and Sales

By: John Chapin

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Recently I met with a new sales rep who’s been in sales for a little over six months. He’s made two sales; he should be closer to 30. I started by asking how many sales calls he’s been making, how many proposals he’s presented, what he’s been saying, and what his overall process has been. It didn’t take long to identify his problem.

Keep in mind that most prospects are simply trying to get rid of you. The average executive has 52 hours of work on their desk and gets 200 to 300 e-mails a day along with 25 to 40 voicemails. Add to that their to-do list of 73 items or so; okay, that last one I guessed on, but you get the point. Even if you aren’t calling on business owners or others executives, the average person still has more than ever on their plate along with a ton of distractions. Now imagine you enter the equation, looking for some of the prospect’s time with all those items screaming for attention. If the prospect is part of the three to five percent who needs you right now, you might be okay, but they usually aren’t, and as a result, their goal is to get rid of you as quickly as possible. Couple all of the above with the fact that the average person does not like to say ‘no’ to other people and you have a real conundrum.

So, let’s look at how this scenario plays out and where it may be causing you problems. You reach someone who is super-busy, really isn’t interested in what you have, and they don’t like to say ‘no’ to people. You hand them a card and some literature as you introduce yourself and your company. They briefly peruse the information and then say, “Looks great, give me a call next Tuesday.” You, thinking you have a hot lead, and not wanting to lose the lead by irritating them with a bunch of questions, agree to that and you’re on your way. You call next Tuesday and you can’t reach them. You leave a message and send an e-mail. Both sound something like, “Hi, this is (your name with your company). I stopped in last Thursday and gave you my card and some literature and you told me to call you back on Tuesday, so that’s why I’m calling you. Please call me back.” Ouch! Of course, they don’t call back so you call them a couple days later and leave another voicemail and send another e-mail. Nothing. You try several more times and still no response, they’re ghosting you. Now multiply this by the number of prospecting calls you’re making and the number of people who are busy, not really interested, and don’t want to tell you ‘no’, and add the fact that you keep chasing them anway, and you have frustration at a 10 on a scale of one to ten.


Note: Some people will tell you ‘no’ and it usually comes with some attitude. These are the analytic personality types who would rather be right than happy and like to fight with people. They are the exception, not the rule, and while we still want to question these people to see if their ‘no’ is a smoke screen, we can thank them for not stringing us along.


Note 2: Obviously when you talk to people you want spark some interest by letting them know what’s in it for them to talk to you. Even the people who did have initial interest have probably forgotten about you by the time you follow up, so you have to remind them why they might be interested, not just drop your name and say, ‘call me.’

To end the frustration you simply must ask the questions necessary to determine interest, or lack thereof. Most salespeople have an aversion to asking direct questions, they are afraid they’re going to tick off the prospect and lose them. Please trust me on this one. You’re only going to tick off people who are lying to you about their interest because their goal is to simply get rid of you and it’s not working. As long as you come across as a professional who’s worthy of respect, and you make a proper connection, the truly interested people will be happy to answer your questions so that you can best help them.

So, what does it look like to ask the necessary questions to determine interest? When someone says to call them next Tuesday, let me know you’d be happy to and find out why they want you to call next Tuesday. When someone asks for a quote or proposal, tell them you’ll be happy to get that to them and ask if they’re ready to move ahead if they like what they see. If they say yes, ask what they need to see. If they say no, ask what factors are preventing them from moving ahead and refuse to do quotes for people who aren’t ready, willing, able to move forward now. Ultimately your questions are going to revolve around the when, what, why, and how. When is the prospect looking to make a decision, what specifically are they looking for, why are they looking for that and why are they looking to buy when they are, and finally, how are they going to buy? By ‘how’ I’m referring to their buying process along with how they will actually pay for the product. Regarding buying process, will they be looking at competitive products, what are the criteria to make a decision, who is involved in the decision, and how will they ultimately execute on their decision? The ‘how’ behind the actual purchase may involve cash, financing, trade-ins, etc.


Finally, close on every call, whether that’s closing the sale, or simply the next step in the sales process, and, speaking of sales process, always make sure you are in control of it. Never be in a position where it’s up to the prospect to get back to you; the ball always needs to be in your court.


John Chapin

#1 Sales Rep w 34+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages). 508-243-7359

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to John has over 34 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year, Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place.

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