Have you ever noticed how some accounts just never close? They will sit around in your pipeline indefinitely, never actually rejecting you, and never agreeing to move forward either. What are you doing wrong that makes it impossible to ever ultimately win these accounts? What should you do about those accounts you can’t seem to move off the fence?

That question comes up often, and it is a valid question. The truth about these accounts is that they are actually suspects, not prospects. You suspect they will eventually do business, and they suspect you will eventually stop pestering them, ensnaring you both into this ridiculous dance that never stops. You end up feeling desperate, and they end up feeling harassed. Not good.

To understand how we land in this situation, and how not to end up here, let’s first take a step back and bucket our potential client list.

ALL of your prospects will land in one of three buckets.  Let’s call them A’s, B’s and C’s.

A’s – These prospects are going to buy. They have awareness of their pain. Unless you open up the call by insulting their mother, or run over their dog while parking the car in front of their business, they were going to buy no matter what.  Their pain, and their awareness of their pain has them motivated to act.  You still get credit for these, because you have to actually CALL ON THEM for them to buy, but they were going to buy from someone, because the timing and all the other elements are right. It’s simply a matter of connecting these people in pain with viable solutions. We’ve all had that sale that went so smoothly and easily that we looked around the room for the hidden cameras, sure that someone was pranking us. These prospects are real, and there are a lot of them out there.

B’s – These are the prospects who might buy, if someone (hint: YOU!) can help them overcome their fears and some inaccurate perceptions about the product, the objective, the way they look at your competition or industry, etc.  (You also need to actually call these people, and have a conversation to stand any chance at getting them, but you need to do more than call on them to get them to buy. You need to help them get over their fear, and hence knock them out of INACTION). Most of them have settled on the status quo and accepted their current situation based either on not knowing about potential solutions, not being aware (or aware enough) of their pain or not aware of how bad their pain is.

C’s – These people are NOT going to buy (right now), and it has NOTHING to do with you.  You can offer them double the product, a 40% discount, a back rub, a car wash and be married to their sister and they are STILL NOT GOING TO BUY RIGHT NOW.  You don’t control the reason.  They either have head trash on your company, had a previous bad experience with a competitor, lost thousands of dollars in a high stakes Vegas poker game to your CEO last year, or……..what a concept……simply do not have enough need for your product or service to offset their fears or concerns (lack of pain = lack of motivation to act).

The BEST sales people in the world have first and foremost mastered 3 behaviors and one attitude.

  1. They make enough calls to find as many A’s as possible (usually causing the other 80% of salespeople to state that they are “lucky” because they find so many easy sales.  Sure, if by “lucky”, you mean they focus on activity, make lots of calls and know when to stop selling.
  2. They use a solid sales process, good objection handling technique, solid product knowledge, a good needs assessment and the right mindset to sell themselves an appointment with the  B’s, and help convert some of them into A’s through good questions, and a solid sales presentation.
  3. They are experts at identifying the C’s, and MOVING ON.  They might stay in contact, check in on occasion, email articles and occasional information, in case one of them turns into a B, but they don’t ruin their chances at future business by trying to force a fit right now.

The attitude?  They are bulletproof to rejection, or more accurately, do not take it as a slight against them, their product, their company.  They recognize that the C’s have their own reasons for not buying, that SOME of them may be valid, and they avoid using that as an excuse not to make more calls.  They also avoid poisoning their mind by assuming everyone they call on will also be a C.

Here are my questions for you.

  • Are you making enough calls to find the A’s on your list?
  • Do you even know how many calls/appointments/presentations you need every week to make your numbers? (activity tracking)
  • Are you PROFESSIONALLY COMPETENT at selling the appointment? Objection responses? Presentation? ROI? Discovery questions?
  • Do you assume personal responsibility for your attitude, your emotional state (or are you one of those people who thinks that stuff “just happens” to you?)
  • Are you taking it as a personal slight or a personal failure when you run into a C? Can you let it go and move one when you do run into one?

Answer those questions, and then work on those 3 behaviors and that one attitude.  The best salespeople in the world can’t close 100% of their prospect list.  They just find a lot of A’s, convert a lot of B’s, and quickly identify and move on from the C’s.