Knowing When to Engage: The Intersection Between Sales and Meaningful Prospects

I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it again—no matter the industry or area of expertise, sales IS the lifeblood of any company. Without new, incoming customers, growth is stunted, office morale plummets and sooner or later, money stops coming in.


It’s because of this that your business’ sales team must be as effective as possible with not only its time, but the people it spends it with, too.


No, the four items on the below list don’t represent a disastrous working relationship 100% of the time, but based on personal experience, these things do and can happen.


Each time a member of your sales staff interacts with a potential client, they find themselves at an intersection of sorts—keep it a safe, beneficial one by thinking twice or  passing on these kinds of prospects:


1) A Prospect Who Doesn’t Quite ‘Fit the Mold’


It’s a fine balance of wanting to work with anyone and everyone that could make sense for your product or solution and spending your time wisely with prospects/customers that “make sense”. Additionally, it’s important to make sure you’re attracting the right kinds of leads.


While a sturdy lead scoring matrix and skilled sales talent can certainly help with this, the wrong targets can still slip through the cracks.


One way to recognize them is to ask yourself one simple question, “Does this person (or brand) look like those with whom we’re most commonly working and do they fit within the areas where we’ve had the most success/will have success?”


Whether it be an issue of sizerevenue opportunitytarget market, or even the buyer signs that they’re serious about working with youif the identity of a prospect/lead seems at least somewhat foreign, know now that you could be entering into a scenario of spinning your wheels.


Yes, your business can branch out, bringing onboard different kinds of buyers in the process, but if it’s guaranteed great customers you’re after, then pay attention to these signs to save all parties valuable time in the long-run.


2) A Prospect Who Appears Emotionally Impulsive


This red flag is usually raised after you’ve had a conversation or two with a potential client.


More often than not, an emotionally impulsive customer displays some of the following qualities:


•   They’re rude, ill-tempered and unwilling to collaborate.

•   They aren’t open and keep important information close to their vests, one word answers are their norm.

•   They forego the validity of facts, choosing to react with emotion, instead.

•   They insist on being involved in processes that don’t benefit them.


Yes, there are many times you’re going to have to deal and be flexible, but at the same time, does this prospect/customer have a genuine interest in understanding how you can help them along with making a decision.


If you miss this right from the get-go, you’ll want to think long and hard about what a partnership might look like moving forward…


3) A Prospect Who Is Far Too Flimsy


While writing this, I debated as to whether or not “flimsy” was the right word.


Considering the drive-home features of this point, however, there’s simply no better word in the English language.


Here, I’m referring to your prospect’s inability to recognize an alignment between their goals and your company’s product or service offerings (pending that you’ve done your job well).


They might seem unconfident during conversations, shaky about what’s needed or even flat out disorganized. What’s worse, have you truly engaged with the decision maker versus influencer?


Sound familiar? If so, you’d be wise to re-strategize, pause for concern or focus on more meaningful contacts.


NoteShould you feel that you’re dealing with a flimsy prospect, before shutting down all communication, do a bit of digging to find out if there are other contacts to make – especially if this is a prized target.


4) A Prospect Who Presents Unrealistic Expectations


Not all warning signs are immediate, though…


Oftentimes, it takes multiple phone conversations or in-person meetings before something questionable catches your eye.


Let’s say that you’ve made it far enough to have built out a customized plan, tailored to a future client’s unique needs and goals. All that’s left to do is seal the deal, right?


Not necessarily…


If a potential client seems fixated on what Hubspot’s Dan Tyre calls the magic wand syndrome,” you might want to reconsider.


Basically, the magic wand syndrome has everything to do with expectations.  You’ve got to set the stage upfront…seriously…do this…Remember, this is my cardinal rule in life.


If a customer isn’t willing to exert any effort on their end or expects that by simply signing on a dotted line your product or service will automatically make everything better, things might not run as smoothly as you’d hoped. It’s your job to understand their problems, what they need and why to clearly communicate what you can do, why you can do it and how.


No matter what you do, some clients will be more difficult than others with business challenges they’re turning to you to solve.


Where Do You Stand?


Having said my piece, I now look to you for input.


In the comments section below, please take a moment to weigh in about the specificthings a lead/prospect does (or fails to do) that immediately set off sirens in your head.


Or, if you’d rather opt for a more direct line of communicationfeel free to connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.


Until then, thanks for reading! Note, I originally wrote this on LinkedIn.


-Amy V.