When we think about how to handle indecisive prospects, we each have to recognize our own tolerance for pain. How long am I willing to chase? How long am I willing to wait? How much am I willing to sacrifice in terms of my own time and my own self-esteem? Right? And it’s different at different stages of life.
I spent so much time in the past just trying to accommodate people who, ultimately, it wouldn’t have made sense to accommodate in the first place. And so for me, I’ve recognized that it’s not always a good idea to just do that.
David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing indecisive prospects. Welcome back, Jay.
Jay: Hey, David. Thank you so much. This is the bane of the existence of so many salespeople because you think you have somebody, they see the benefits, but they just can’t seem to make up their mind and you know that you can help them.
You know that if they would just do this, they would be on their way to a better place, but you just can’t get ’em over that finish line. It’s so frustrating.
David: Yeah, Jay, you know, I was really struggling to decide if we should do a podcast on this topic. It was weighing on me and I’m thinking, should we do it? Should we not do it? And I went back and forth and I spent eight months, and then I decided, yeah, maybe we’ll do it. No. That approach it’s brutal and we’ve all dealt with it.
The term wishy-washy comes to mind where they just can’t or won’t make a decision and it’s frustrating. But it’s also kind of unnecessary because when you’re dealing with someone who really is just not able to make a decision, it’s almost a disqualifier for me. And it very often becomes a disqualifier for me. Because if we’ve laid out our best-case scenario for why it makes sense to move forward with something we’re doing or not to move forward with something that we’re doing.
If we’ve done that and they’re still sort of going back and forth and they don’t know why or they can’t put their finger on it, then they’re probably not a good prospect. Because the problem with indecisive prospects is they go on to become indecisive clients, which means every time you want to sell something to them, they’re going to have to think about it or go away and meditate on it or whatever it is they’re going to have to do.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for everybody. They’re not getting the result of whatever it is that they were thinking about buying from you. You’re spending a lot of time chasing them. They’re spending a lot of time either being chased or avoiding being chased or dodging you.
So for me, it can become a disqualifier pretty quickly.
Jay: Yeah, and I think you’ve actually kind of zeroed in on a larger recognition, and that is, are we thinking about what type of customer this is going to be while we’re talking about them initially?
Because it may not just be that they’re indecisive. We may through the conversation find out this client is going to be very hard to work with because they have a bazillion questions, or they seem so demanding or whatever. I think that kind of pre-assessment in the process can be very important.
I also think with indecisive people, you know, you have to have your steps. Have I gone through every step of the process? Have I tried every skillset that I have in the book, and they’re still waffling back and forth, then you’re exactly right.
Is this somebody that I want to be working with on a daily basis? Is it worth my time? And I think the answer is probably no.
David: Yeah. And when you listen to what people tell you, if you’re having some sort of interaction with someone who’s considering working with you and you’re actually paying attention to what they say, and their story changes dramatically from day to day. That to me is a huge red flag.
I had a situation recently where someone was talking about how determined they were to grow their business. They wanted to get it to a certain point as quickly as possible, and the reasons that they were doing it were all very noble. They wanted to do it for their family and they wanted to reach this particular level of sales, and they wanted to do it sooner rather than later. And then two days later they decided they weren’t going to do it because they needed to do something with their house first.
They needed to, you know, fix up their house before they could focus on this. And it’s like, okay, well that’s perfectly fine. Right? Everybody gets to choose their own priorities. And the person said, Hey, I’m not saying we’re not going to work together. I’m just saying that, you know, not right now.
And my response was, well, you know, listen, as of the other day, your focus was on growing your business, doing very specific things to achieve a very specific result to benefit very specific people. And now your priority is to do something completely different.
I understand you’re saying that we could work together in the future, but based on what you’re telling me, I’m not your guy. You know, I can’t help someone whose priorities change from day-to-day, minute to minute, second to second, I can’t help someone like that because if today you’re headed toward Goal A and tomorrow you’re headed toward Goal Z and they’re in completely opposite directions, I can’t do it.
You know? No one can do it because you can’t operate in multiple directions at the same time. And so I think some of indecisiveness comes from people not being extremely clear on where they want to go in the first place. Or not being committed to where they say they want to go in the first place. So for me, when people are committed to going in a certain direction, I know I can help them get there faster.
I know I can help them get farther in that destination. But when they’re all over the place, wow, it’s a lose-lose.
Jay: Yeah. what’s so frustrating about that is in the moment when they’re focused, they’re in, right? They’re going to buy your product. And then the next time you talk to ’em, it’s like none of that ever happened, or they’ve completely changed their mind and you’re like, wait a minute. You know, we had this figured out. We had put together a plan, and now they’re on a different planet. Man, that can be a frustrating process.
So if you can identify that type of behavior earlier on, then you can move on to other people. I do think that you still want to maintain some type of contact with that person through a drip campaign or something, because eventually they may want to come back to you. But when they do, hopefully they’re ready then.
David: Yeah. And I would say earlier in my career, that would be the kind of thing that I would probably continue to chase out. But again, I think you get to a certain point and you recognize certain behaviors.
And for me, with what I do, we have to have congruity in our communications. We have to have congruity in our actions. And so when I noticed that that’s the case, it says to me, this is not a good fit. I’m not going to be able to help a person like that. And so if yeah, if they want to come back and if they say, Hey, now I’m really focused on it, and if it makes sense, I’d be happy to do that. But for me, I’m not chasing that out and I’m not saying other people shouldn’t, I’m just saying that’s the way that I’m approaching it now, because there are so many people who get it, who are focused, who are able to maintain their focus. And those are my peeps.
You know, those are the people that I’m looking to work with. And it is a relatively small subset of the population. And so when you have somebody that you think is like that, and then they may or may not turn out to be that way, you have to make those decisions according to your own guidelines and according to who you think you can help and who you think you can’t.
Jay: Yeah, I totally agree. And it depends on the type of business whether or not you can do this, but I’ve seen where people have steps that identify if the customer is serious. So we’ve had an initial call and I’ve said, okay, I’m going to send something over for you to look at. And then you call ’em up and you’re like, have you looked at that?
And they’re like, well, no, I haven’t. Okay, they’re not progressing to step two. So I’m not going to try and progress them to step three yet, because they’re not showing that they’re moving in my direction. Not every business has clear steps like that. But if you can identify, you know, okay, in our sales process, I’ve requested information from the client so that I can get them a quote, for example.
Well, if I’m having to beat myself up every day to get that information, that’s a very quick indicator that this is probably somebody that you’re not going to be able to get over the finish line right now. And so I love it if you can identify individual places where you can say, ah, it’s time to move on.
David: Yeah. I also think that as a salesperson, we each have to recognize our own tolerance for pain. You know, how long am I willing to chase? How long am I willing to wait? How much am I willing to sacrifice in terms of my own time and my own self-esteem? Right? And it’s different at different stages of life. I’m feeling like some of the things I’m saying on the podcast today are dating me in terms of the way that I do things now versus the way that I used to do things.
But I spent so much time in the past just trying to accommodate people who, ultimately, it wouldn’t have made sense to accommodate in the first place. And so for me, I’ve recognized that it’s not always a good idea to just do that. You know, we don’t want to wait forever. We want to be able to have respect for their time and for our time and just ask ourselves, do these people even do what they say they’re going to do?
If they say they’re going to respond back, do they respond back? Are they communicative? Because if you can’t communicate with your people, as we had discussed in a previous episode, it’s very difficult to get much of anything done. And to the extent that there are specific contradictions where they say one thing and then they say something completely different later, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to point that out.
Not in a bad way. Not in a negative way, but just to say, okay, well listen, the other day you told me this and now you’re telling me that. This doesn’t really seem to make sense. And if the goal is to get the business anyway, then what you would do is you would say, okay, can you clarify that for me so we can figure it out?
Or if the goal is to say, okay, that’s sort of a bridge too far, then you say, I don’t think it makes sense for us. And either of those responses are okay. Unless, you’re in a situation where you have a boss who demands that you close the sale regardless, which I don’t think is ultimately always healthy.
But in those situations, then yeah, you’ll probably have to work harder at seeing if there can be a fit if it doesn’t seem like there is a fit now.
Jay: Yeah. There’s one other type of person that I run into, and that’s a person who will always talk to you. They’ll always pick up the phone. They’ll talk to you for hours, but they’re never going to buy from you. But you’ve established a relationship and they may even ask you more questions about your product, but they just want to talk and they’re never going to ever close.
Yeah, those people are time suckers, and it’s easy to fall into the trap and believe if I can just talk to them enough, I can close them. And you’re not going to, because really you’ve become their friend, not a service provider.
David: Yeah. And a lot of salespeople have fallen into that trap where maybe they’re just having a rough day and people are being rude to them and hanging up on them and they’re like, well, I’ll call this person cause at least I know this person will be nice.
Not going to be selling anything, but at least I know that this person will be nice to me. And it’s a defense mechanism. I understand it. But if you recognize that while you’re doing that, you are not potentially in touch with someone who can buy from you, it may be motivation to try to move on to the next person who could actually do business with you.
Jay: Yeah, such a great point. Don’t interpret their willingness to communicate with a willingness to buy your product. You have to always be thinking about that. Great conversation, David. How can people find out more?
David: Well, you can go to TopSecrets.com/call, schedule a call with myself or my team. We can walk through whatever issues you’re dealing with now. If you’re having trouble getting through to the right people, if you’re struggling with indecisive prospects, if you need to bring new prospects and clients through the door consistently, and you need to have a backlog of people you’re waiting to serve, rather than a big gap in your sales pipeline, go to that link, TopSecrets.com/call.
We’ll schedule a call. We’ll see how we can help you.
Jay: All right. Thank you so much, David.
David: Thank you, Jay.
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