eights-1Salespeople might appear to have unlimited patience, but they don't have unlimited time. Knowing when to abandon a deal or disqualify a prospect and move on is an incredibly important sales skill.

But it can be hard to tell the difference between a prospect who isn't going to buy now vs. one who isn't going to buy ever. Spending additional time on the first buyer would be in both parties' best interest, while spending more time on the second is a time suck for seller and buyer.

So how can you separate the maybe interested from the definitely not? In her new book "Nonstop Sales Boom," Colleen Francis, owner of Engage Selling Solutions, reveals eight behavioral clues demonstrated by buyers who just aren't going to bite. 

1) They demand to talk about price right away.

"Prospects who ask about price early have already made up their mind to buy from someone else," Francis writes. An insistence to talk dollars usually denotes that the buyer has decided on their provider but is checking in with other suppliers as part of a due diligence process, she explained. They might seem like very motivated buyers, and they are -- they're just not motivated to buy from you.

2) They insist you work around their schedule.

If a prospect is only willing to give you a very specific and brief window of their time, "you are being used at the last minute to justify a purchase decision for another product," Francis writes. 

3) They won't give you their budget.

According to Francis, prospects who refuse to talk about their budget are "either playing games, are not serious prospects, or do not have the power to buy." And none of those scenarios will result in a sale.

4) They won't introduce you to any additional stakeholders.

According to CEB, widespread support for a supplier is the number one factor decision makers consider when making a purchase. However, it's hard to garner support if your prospect won't let you talk to anyone else at their organization. Francis writes that this is a sign that the buyer doesn't trust you, and therefore, won't buy from you.

5) They already work with a supplier that can provide the same thing as you.

If the buyer already works with a vendor that sells what you sell ... why do they want a proposal from you? Probably so they can force their supplier's hand on price. Beware.

6) They totally fall off the map.

Once you've established a relationship with a buyer, they will keep it going -- if they're serious. Francis cautions that prospects who talk for a while but then go silent probably aren't going to suddenly resurface. Whether that's because they decided to abandon the project or go with another supplier is irrelevant; what's important to remember is "absence doesn't make the buyer grow fonder."

7) They can't answer these three questions.

If these questions are met with an "I don't know," Francis recommends disqualifying the prospect.

  • What does success look like with this project?
  • Who else will be involved in this decision?
  • When do you need to have this project done by? 

8) They put you off again and again ... and again.

"'Call me back later' is really a camouflaged no," Francis writes. Prospects who keep punting meetings or calls to later and later dates are probably just hoping you'll get the hint. Take it and move on.

Originally published Dec 8, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017


Sales Strategy