3 Keys to Dealing With Difficult Prospects

I listen to a lot of calls each week that my clients send me.

This week, I listened to a closing call from one of their reps, and here is how the prospect opened the call:

Prospect: “Let me just tell you upfront that we’re looking at a lot of different options right now of which yours is just one… ”

Then: “And also, I’m not the decision maker on this, I’m just an influencer. After this, I have to take this back to the board and let them know what I think.”

Then (as if that’s not enough), “And I have a hard stop in 35 minutes, so we need to get into it… ”

Nice start, huh?

Actually, it is a great start, because now you don’t have to be a salesperson and pitch, pitch, pitch (which you should never do anyway).

Here are the 3 keys to handling this type of prospect:

Key #1: When he opened with, “We’re looking at a lot of different options of which yours is just one… ”

The key here is to address this and use it to your advantage. I would have responded by saying:

“That’s great. Let’s do this then. Why don’t you tell me which option you like best so far, tell me what you like about it so much, and then I’ll let you know if our program can match that or even give you more.”

Then hit I’d hit mute and let them talk.

Key #2: When he says, “I’m just an influencer-not the decision maker,” I would have again addressed it right then by saying:

“Thanks for letting me know. Does the decision maker take your advice-in other words-is your influence something that will sway the final decision?”

And if he then dodged that by saying something like, “Yeah, but it’s up to them,” I’d have layered my question with:

“And from what you know, what exactly are they looking for? In other words, what do they need to see from all these options to say yes?”

Key #3: And as far as the, “I have a hard stop in 35 minutes,” I would have responded with:

“Thanks for the head’s up. Tell you what, since I have a ton of info to give you, let’s streamline this and you tell me what’s most important to you, and I’ll show you how we handle that.”

And I’d hit mute again.

Here’s the bottom line:

1) Prospects have all the answers. It’s best to listen, question, and let them reveal those answers.

2) Take what a prospect gives you. The key here is you need to listen! If you do, then you can respond to what they tell you and get more information and learn the direction you need to go in.

3) Meet someone where they are, like with this prospect. You need to match them. Take your sales hat off and play their game. Don’t be afraid to be as abrupt as they are-they’ll appreciate it.

Keep these keys handy the next you run into a difficult prospect. They’ll work better than you think they will.