There are some people you ought not sell to. The cheapskate who is going to fight you over every invoice and every recommendation and who will NOT thank you for the services provided. Close to them is the slow-to-no payer who wants payments and extended credit on everything. Then there’s the raging a-hole who is not just ungrateful but downright nasty, rude and belligerent to you and your staff. Another is the “knows enough to be dangerous” guy who insists on doing some of the work himself, who tinkers and screws things up, leaving behind a giant mess for you to clean up. Some simply won’t take your advice but still expect the same results delivered.
Sometimes – OFTEN – these people reveal themselves in the sales process and should be passed over immediately. You don’t, mostly because of the lure of the check. This is one of the reasons why having sufficient deal flow is critical to not only the stability of your business, but to your sanity and confidence. But how do you know when someone is being totally, completely irrational in the sales process, kicking off warning signs of “Danger, Will Robinson!” or simply not “sold” yet? Here are four signs…
1. ANGER: If the prospect disagrees with you but expresses himself with more intensity and excitement than the situation seems to warrant, he’s an emotional fireball to avoid. Some people cannot disagree without crushing the other person, belittling them and “showing you who’s in charge.” This has nothing to do with you – and if he’s acting this way in the sales process when you bring up price or suggest he sign a managed services contract, he’s only going to get worse once he’s given you money. Move on.
2. EVASIVENESS: If the prospect won’t answer questions, seems evasive, refuses to share critical information to help you understand their situation, won’t provide details and generally stonewalls you, that’s a sign you’re wasting your time. Either they are using you to get a quote to beat up their current IT guy or some other game’s afoot. Don’t play along. A SERIOUS buyer will gladly assist you in the sales process, giving you all the details and all the facts, answering any questions you need intel on. Simply say, “You seem unwilling to provide me with the information I need to help you. Have I done something to offend you?” If they say no, that’s just the way they are – they’re playing you. Get out.
3. RAISING OBJECTIONS: Some prospects MUST find fault with every little thing. They bring up an objection that you answer. Then they bring up another. Then another. Then another. At some point, it gets ridiculous. This is not a person who wants to buy, this is a person who wants to argue. Say, “You seem like you’ve made up your mind that we’re not the right solution for you,” and get out. This is not someone you want to be dealing with on a regular basis.
4. IRRATIONAL ARGUMENTS: If the prospect trots out a collection of worst-possible-case scenarios that will happen if he moves ahead, has totally irrational arguments or goes off on tangents, he’s emotionally immature (and probably not very bright). This is not someone you want as a client. Move on.
When any of these signs occur, it’s a fool’s errand to try and use logic to bring them back to earth or fight through whatever hidden agendas they have. Your choices are to A) use a label to let him know you’ve noted the bad behavior and are calling him out on it, hoping he’ll play nice and stop screwing around, or B) leave and find a better, more productive prospect to sell to.
My advice is to go with “B” unless you feel there really is something there, and you want to give him a shot at correcting his bad behavior so you can move forward productively. Keep in mind YOU cannot force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do or change a hardwired belief he might have.