Are These Organizations Prospects or Suspects?

How do you find your best prospects not suspects?How do you find your best prospects not suspects?
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I got several notes from readers last week saying that their sales people spend significant time with the wrong people at the wrong time in the wrong part of the organization. Are they really prospects, or suspects? I know your sales team never misses their mark, but I still do, at times.

It’s critical your sales team spends time with prospects not suspects. I bet right now I can eliminate over 25% your sales pipeline and increase your sales effectiveness by at least 50%. Many sales professionals invest their sales time with suspects, not prospects.

Here are several questions you can use to help your sales team succeed in identifying prospects, not suspects. I got theses ideas from a great book I got for Christmas by Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, called High Profit Prospecting. These came from Chapter 8. I’ve added my own experience to the mix to help provide you with more context so you might apply it to your given sales situation. This book should be on every sales professionals desk. You can grab it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

  1. Do you have a timeline for when a decision is going to be made? Many sales professionals believe that one afternoon they will get a call from a client and get a go ahead on their projects. Want to increase your sales success? Get clients to commit to a date on which they will give you an answer. Yes and no won’t kill you, the maybe has ended more sales careers than any other answer.
  2. What do you know about your project that others don’t? If you don’t know much more or even the same information as everyone else going after the business, you are not likely to get the business. Want to see how well you’re doing with client in the sales process? Ask and see if you have their trust. If they are still not sharing tips and insider perspectives, they may not trust you yet. If you don’t have this trust, you’re not going to get the business. You may not even be competing for the business. They may be suspects.
  3. Do they have a need for something you do? How many times have you held out the hope your company is selling something the customer wants? Hope springs eternal for us sales executives. If we can work long enough with a customer at some point they will want to buy from us. If you not selling something they want, you cannot out wait them to move them up to a prospect.
  4. Are you dealing with a decision maker? Team selling can be great, team buying can make our lives a living hell. This one kills more deals than all the rest combined. Do they have budget, are they the final decision maker? Are they even part of the decision team? When I lead sales teams, I work with my younger sales team members to help them decide if they are working with a decision maker. Over 70% of the time the answer is no.
  5. Do they have the capability to buy what you sell? Some of the solutions I’ve been involved in cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Does the person you’re dealing with have the financial ability to buy? I started selling expensive cleaning systems to home owners and commercial buyers. It was relatively easy to determine if a customer could buy. Take time to uncover what your buyer has bought in the past and it will give you a good indication of what they might be able to buy moving forward.
  6. Are you responding to a RFP or public bid? Were you involved in creating the RFP? If not you, who was? If you were not involved in the creation of the RFP, what are the chances you will win it? As entrepreneurs and sales professionals, all you have is your time. Chasing down bids and organizations who aren’t willing to work with you before the bidding decrease the chances of you succeeding by at least 80%. If you ask the person who sent you the RFP who created it and they get evasive, you may be playing in a rigged game. I know this never happens to you, but some organizations have gotten very good at playing this game. It’s up to you to decide if you want to play the hand you’re dealt or if you go invest your time where you have the possibility of success.
  7. Are you dealing with people with whom you understand their personal and professional agendas? Do you know why a person is buying? No, not the things you’re selling. Do they have a clear understanding what outcomes are needed to be to make the deal? If you don’t, you may still be dealing with a suspect.

Mark Hunter shares this and many other resources in his book High Profit Prospecting. He provides many great sales tools to help you find and sell high profit customers. Now you can help your sales team determine who are prospects and who are suspects.

I added number 7 because many of the technology sales professionals I work with struggle with understanding their clients’ agendas. It may not be as transparent as it seems. As we all know, logic doesn’t always rule our clients’ decision making process.

Next week, we give you tips on how to read and engage in your clients’ agendas to increase your sales success. See you next week!






About the Author

Tripp Braden partners with entrepreneurs and senior executives on their high engagement C-Suite communication and content marketing strategies.

I believe client education is the best way of building trust and long term sustainable growth.

My consulting practice focuses on second stage entrepreneurs, technology organizations, and senior level business executives. I partner with clients to develop high impact C-Suite communication and account based marketing strategies.

My work with many Fortune 1000 organizations helps smaller and mid-market businesses benefit from leveraging account based marketing strategies.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact me at or send me an invite on LinkedIn. You can find Tripp’s Serving Leadership blog at Empowering Serving Leaders.

Tripp Braden – who has written posts on Market Leadership Journal.

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