Relationship — and Sales Advice

When you manage your prospects well, it has a positive impact on how you spend your time, your ability to grow your business, and also your stress level. The first step is getting clear on which prospects are more likely to lead to real business and which ones are not. Read below for ideas on how to do this, and also how to move them forward into action.

“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.” – Patricia Fripp

Relationship — and Sales Advice

By Art Sobczak

While pouring myself a cup of coffee in the break room of a company where I was doing some onsite training, I couldn’t help but overhear two women in a spirited conversation.

“Yeah, he just couldn’t make a commitment.”

“Oh, I hate those kind.”

“What a wimp. Every time I tried to get a definite answer, he would get all wishy-washy with me.”

“I know the type. I’ve had those too.”

“So, whaddja do?”

“I dumped him.”

“Good for you. You can’t waste your time like that.”

A coworker, also overhearing the conversation, teased,

“What’s the matter ladies? Relationship problems?”

“No, bozo. I’m talking about a prospect who kept putting me off. So I finally asked him if he would ever make a decision and he said no. That’s one less prospect I need to chase.”

Wow! Good for her.

You might not close a sale on every customer contact, but if you are continuing to pursue a prospect, you should indeed get some type of commitment every time.

If a prospect suggests they alone won’t or can’t make a decision, or make one now, they might be brushing you off.

If you can’t get a commitment from them, even a minor one, it’s pretty likely they have no intention of ever doing anything. On the other hand, if they are sincere, they’ll have no hesitations about committing to some type of action before the next contact.

For example, consider the scenario where you’ve questioned, made a presentation, and the prospect says, “I really can’t do anything myself. It’s going to be Jan Smith’s decision. I’ll talk to her and get back to you.”

Left at that, you likely wouldn’t get this person’s enthusiastic support. Consequently, Jan wouldn’t do cartwheels upon hearing it either. Instead, to get a commitment from this person you could say,

“Do you personally like the idea?”

“If it were your decision, would you go with it?”

“Would you be comfortable recommending it to Jan before I call?”

Their answer provides your answer regarding whether they’re worth pursuing.

The Future Event Situation

Let’s say the prospect tries putting you off because they’re waiting for a future event.

For example, “We can’t do anything until we get our new computer system.”

To deal with this, first, draw on your logic to discern whether that event should even affect what you sell.

For example, acquiring the new computer system shouldn’t affect the exterior landscape service you provide. You could ask in a justifiably confused way,

“I guess I’m not following you Mr. Prospect. How are those two decisions related?”

Some stallers throw out any excuse–some, absurd–to get salespeople off the phone. Most work quite splendidly because they’re not questioned.

On the other hand, if their future event must precede the purchase of what you sell, you should get commitment he/she will buy from you when that event takes place.

“When you do get your new system installed, can I be the one to provide that maintenance contract?”

“When you do decide to open it up for bids, can I be one of the first to receive the Request for Proposal?”

“When you do have an overflow situation that requires bringing in temporary help, will you call me to provide those people?”

Be sure they’re not stalling you, and then go for the strongest commitment you can get today which will move you closer to the sale.

Art Sobczak, Business By Phone Inc., provides how-to ideas and tips for rejectionless prospecting, selling, and servicing by phone. Get the free ebook, “29 Sales Tips You Can Use Right Now” at


How much potential do your prospects actually offer? What 2 or 3 questions will you add to your prospecting arsenal to help you clarify your prospect’s status? Share with us below.