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Qualifying Prospects Over the Phone? How and When to Bail

Qualifying Prospects Over Phone?

There are going to be times when you the salesperson need to end the call and move on. So how do you bail on a sales call and still keep the possibility of a future deal, alive? And how will you know if you should bail, or push on?

Qualifying Prospects Over Phone; The Red/Yellow/Green Light Play

This sales scripts blog post shared the “Red/Yellow/Green Light” concept for selling by phone and outlined how each phase or step of the sales process needs a green light before moving to the next step.

One of the most important, maybe the most essential step of the entire sales process happens at the beginning of the “qualifying” phase: Getting Problem Recognition.

After all, if there’s no problem to solve, there’s no need for a sales presentation.

You might want to read that last sentence again.

How many sales reps continue to pitch a prospect who has no interest?

There are going to be times when the prospect you are speaking to does not have a problem that you can help them solve. And there will also be times that a prospect will refuse to admit they have a problem, even if your phone skills are sharp as a tack for engaging a prospect and asking them questions.

In either case, if they don’t disclose, agree or admit to a problem that your solution solves, you’ve hit a red light. You’re left on 1st base, and the inning is over. Notice I said the inning is over, not the game.

You want to live to fight another day, and you want to shorten the duration of turning this red light into a green one.

So how do you do that?

By planting a seed.

We have all made the mistake of trying to sell a prospect who has not agreed to a problem. We also know that doing so is an extremely low % of closing a deal and a high % of irritating a prospect to where they won’t take our follow-up calls.

I’ve found a better sales strategy for dealing with what we can call “Problem Recognition Red Lights” that keeps you in the game.

Once you’ve passed the opener and entered the qualification phase of the sales call, here is what to say when you get a red light after several failed attempts to establish problem recognition:

“It doesn’t really sound like there is anything I can do to help you right now. But, if you start to notice that (PAINT POINT ONE), or (PAINT POINT TWO), or (PAINT POINT THREE), or maybe (PAINT POINT FOUR) – there’s an excellent chance we could help. Just feel free to reach back out – I’ll send you my contact information. Fair enough?”

Here’s a real-world example straight out of our SalesBuzz Playbook:

“It doesn’t really sound like there is anything I can do to help you right now. But, if you start to notice that your team is sitting around waiting for the phones to ring, or they have some call reluctance, or they aren’t getting deep enough into the call, or maybe you feel like they are losing deals they should have won – there’s an excellent chance we could help. Just feel free to reach back out – I’ll send you my contact information. Fair enough?”

This sales response does two things:

1) It lowers the prospect’s guard.

They are no longer gearing up to deal with a pushy salesperson. You’re letting them off the hook, and they start to relax. Also, you are doing something for them. You’re offering help for when they might need it. Who doesn’t want to have contacts at the ready for when you need something?

2) It plants a seed.

Whether they have any one or more of those issues right now and didn’t want to admit it or didn’t think it was a problem until you mentioned it, you’re causing them to lose sleep. By agitating a pain or scratching an itch, it grows and becomes more of an issue. Hence why we call this the “planting a seed play.”

My sales managers would hear me use this play all the time and get a callback the next day from the prospect who would say,

“You know, I was thinking about what you said yesterday and wanted to see if you had a minute to talk?”

I have to give credit to one of my sales managers who labeled this the “Plant a Seed” play as he said, “Pedone, you made that guy lose sleep all night by running the plant a seed play.”

By bailing on the call this way, you are doing several things:

  • You are using practical time management skills by not trying to fit a square into a circle.
  • You are positioning yourself as someone who wants to “help,” not “sell.”
  • When a “trigger event” does happen and the prospect has one of the problems you can help solve, you’re the one they call first.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Be prepared on what to say and how to say it when it comes time to run the plant-a-seed play, and that’s where role-playing comes in.

As the saying goes:

“When the time to perform arrives, the time to prepare has passed”

By role-playing new sales techniques every day, you increase your chances of helping more prospects while making yourself more money.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – On-demand sales courses that teach B2B phone sales techniques that work.