One of the challenges facing salespeople is learning how to manage the time we spend with potential clients. Whether a sales team is efficient or performing well depends largely on detecting whether prospects are really interested in buying, or are unlikely to get to the bottom of the sales funnel.

In her new book, NonStop Sales Boom: Powerful Strategies to Drive Consistent Growth Year After Year, Colleen Francis, founder of Engage Selling Solutions, explains how to develop this instinct. As your time is limited, you need to be able to disqualify a prospect if you see signs they are not going to buy your service. Learning how to differentiate between a “Not now, thank you” and a definite “No” is essential in deciding whether to include them in your sales activity.

To save you precious time in your future sales calls, here are 8 signs that a prospect is not going to buy.

1) They want to talk price straightaway

According to Francis, prospects that question the price at the start of the conversation already have other buying options and are simply comparing figures. If they insist on knowing the cost of your offering and seem very enthusiastic, watch out – they probably won’t become customers.

2) They insist you adapt to their schedule

If a prospect can only spare a very limited amount of time, Francis warns you’re probably being used at the last minute to justify the buying decision for another product.

3) They won’t reveal their budget

If a potential client refuses to talk about their budget, it’s either because they’re playing with you, they’re not serious, or they don’t have sufficient resources to buy your product. Whatever the case, none of these scenarios will result in a sale.

4) They don’t introduce you to their team

It’s difficult to close a sale if your prospect won’t let you speak to anyone else in the company to demonstrate why you have the solution to their problem. You need to introduce yourself to everyone who takes part in the buying decision. If your customer doesn’t support you in doing this, it’s a sign the buyer doesn’t trust you and that the sale will not follow.

5) They already work with a supplier who can offer the same as you

If the buyer already works with a vendor that sells the same thing as you, why are they listening to your proposal? Probably to demand a new price from their current supplier, based on the response you innocently gave them.

6) They disappear from your radar

Every prospect needs time to think about whether your proposal is really what they’re looking for. But if they are serious, they’ll stay in touch. Those who gradually disappear from view, however, will probably not resurface, according to Francis.

Maybe they’ve decided not to pursue the project, or to go with another supplier. What’s important is to learn how to recognise the lack of contact for what it is, and invest your time and efforts in customers who do want to work with you.

7) They can’t reply to the following 3 questions

It sounds a little categorical, but the owner of Engage Selling Solutions suggests disqualifying prospects who respond to the following questions with “I don’t know”:

  • How will this project help you be more successful?
  • Who else is involved in the decision?
  • What is your deadline for completing the project?

8) They put you off repeatedly

When you constantly receive messages such as “Call me later”, or “I need to postpone the meeting”, accept it: your prospect is pursuing another path. Learn from the experience and stay motivated. You’ll have plenty of chance to demonstrate your sales skills to new customers.

Related post (about Colleen Francis): 7 tips for preparing an effective sales visit

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