Sales Ghosts – Why Connecting with Prospects is Tough

Denver-Based Sales Leadership Development Available Nationwide

Posted: January 30, 2014

You meet with a new prospect and his/her guard is up. Their answers are short, and they pressure you to get to the solution and price without allowing you time to analyze their current situation. (It’s kind of like a doctor bringing in surgical tools without a diagnostic—crazy.) 

Some of this behavior exists because your prospects are overloaded. Their behavior could also be coming from ‘sales ghosts’ of the past. 

When you call on a prospect, memories from former bad sales meetings are brought into the meeting. You may have an entirely different style of sales and influence, however, the prospect doesn’t know that, resulting in guarded conversations. 

Here are a few of the sales ghosts you may be running into:

The sales ghost of the ‘assumptive close’ rep:  This is the salesperson that hasn’t updated their approach since the 70’s. This salesperson was taught to ‘assume’ the sale.  Translation:  try to corner your prospect with statements like, “So if we could…would you want to?”  Or, “Would you like model A or B?”

Good salespeople recognize this ghost of the past and instead of assuming the business, they prefer challenging the prospect on why he needs to make a change. For example, in a sales meeting where the prospect isn’t giving up much information, you need to quickly change dynamic of the conversation. Do the opposite of what the prospect is expecting and say something like, “Mr. Prospect, as much as I’d like your business, I am not hearing enough reasons for change or invest. Things seem to be going well. What am I missing?” 

Now you have put the ball in the prospect’s court. It’s his job to convince you of the reasons to change.  In the emotional intelligence world it’s called reality testing.  What’s really going on versus what you’d like to have going on. Let’s face it, if the prospect isn’t committed to changing or the problem isn’t big enough to address, no amount of great selling skills are going to close this deal.   

The sales ghost of the ‘feeling’ rep:  This is the salesperson that was taught to find out how the prospect “feels” about her challenge. The sales meeting is similar to those awful reporters on TV interviewing victims of a flood or fire.  They ask dumb questions in hopes of evoking emotion.  “How does losing your home make your feel?” Gee, I’m delighted. I was hoping to purchase new furniture. 

Here’s how it sounds during a sales call.  The prospect shares her pain of frustration of wasting time and money on technology that doesn’t work.  Then the feeling rep asks, “How does that make you feel?”  The prospect looks at the salesperson and thinks, “How do you think it makes me feel?  (And there might be some additional words to finish that sentence.)   

The professional salesperson puts on his/her empathy hat and shares a better response, one of genuine concern. “I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be. You’re trying to be progressive by investing in your company; instead, you have technology issues that are eating up everyone’s time at the company.”

During your pre-call planning, think about someone of the sales ghosts that might be haunting your prospect. Their guarded approach during a meeting is not about you...it’s about the other bad salespeople that have wasted their time and money. 

Change your approach and you will change your sales outcomes. 

To your sales success,

Colleen Stanley

President/Founder