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How to Lose Quickly, Effortlessly and with Minimal Time and Expense

If you find yourself prospecting and you run into intractable, deeply entrenched negative prospects, usually your best tactic is to take them to ground zero. Ground zero is the place of “no return” and is your last-ditch effort. The problem with stubborn prospects is the more you persist with them the stronger they will resist you.

If you are getting stonewalled after many futile attempts to engage them, then it makes sense to cut your losses and get one final confirmation that you are going nowhere quickly. This helps you maintain your dignity and helps eliminate any nagging doubts that they can be converted. Keep in mind, the best-case scenario usually for taking someone to ground zero is you don’t continue to waste any more of your valuable time and energy chasing a phantom prospect.

Because the following questions and statements are fairly loaded, make sure you ask them in as non-threatening and graceful a manner as possible. Also be prepared for the worst; a quick and definitive negative response from your prospect.

  • "Has your company made the decision not to look at any other alternatives?"
  • "Can I ask you a silly question? Do you believe that what you've got, within reason, is as good as it gets and doesn't get any better?"
  • "Can I ask you a loaded question? If there was a better and more efficient way out there to improve your results, and I'm not sure if we even have it or not, are you even open to taking the time to look at it?"
  • "Are you at all open to extending me the professional courtesy of a few minutes of your time to discuss any possible shortfalls or issues in your organization?"
  • "Is it the case that you don't have any problems or is it you don't have any problems that are worth your time discussing with me?”
  • "Well, you certainly can't argue with success. However, what if you have some of these issues but you aren't even aware of them? It's the classic four-wall syndrome. You're too close or too accustomed to your problems that they no longer register. Or so long as you don't hear about them they aren't meaningful."
  • "I may be pushing my luck, but it sounds like you have these problems but they are manageable or tolerable and you can live with them quite well. Don't fix it if it isn’t really broke."
  • "I assume you don't owe it to yourself or your company to further investigate issues that aren't perceived as a priority for you?”
  • "Have you reached the conclusion that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by staying with what you have and what you know?"
  • "At this stage of the game have you concluded that what you don't know can't hurt you?"
  • "Are you in that enviable position that we all seek, where your success is assured by your present course, you don't have to look over your shoulder, and constantly push the envelope to improve?"
  • "Have you decided beyond a reasonable doubt that it isn't in your best interests to take any time or resources to explore other options?"
  • "I assume there is no question that what got you to be successful today is the same that will allow you to be successful in the future?"

The following questions and statements are not as forceful and definitive but can be very effective with prospects who love to talk and are always projecting optimism. These are the type of prospects who aren’t forward thinking, objective and willing to emotionally step aside and take a constructive look at their problems. Instead of resisting them, use the following questions and statements as a way to nudge them. Overly optimistic prospects may not be willing to admit problems, but they may be willing to admit imperfections.

  • "I can see where that would make your life very easy."
  • "You certainly are in an enviable position."
  • "You certainly can't argue with success."
  • "That must make your job very secure and fulfilling."
  • "I can see why you would have no motivation to change."
  • "It must be very gratifying to be in that ideal position."
  • "You must consider yourself very lucky."
  • "That must give you a lot of job security."
  • "Sounds like smooth sailing at XYZ Company for you."
  • "You certainly, for the time being, have a lot to be grateful for."

Keep in mind that selling often has more to do with picking your battles wisely and cutting your losses than it does with asserting your will and trying to convert intractable prospects. Going to ground zero will more often than not save you time and energy but won't result often in forwarding your cause and moving you positively forward. This time saving strategy will also allow you to achieve closure on prospects who aren't open-minded, therefore minimizing lingering doubts about their feasibility. In sales there are always two winners. The first winner is the salesperson who was awarded the deal. The second winner is the salesperson who lost quickly, effortlessly and with minimum expenditure of valuable resources.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com