Lots of articles tell you how to gain a prospect’s interest. Many will include tricks and tips, and many are just plain wrong. There are many ways to gain the interest of a prospect, not least of which is simply because your product is interesting. There are also some sure-fire ways to lose that interest, and they usually have to do with you. Here are the three best ways to lose a prospect’s interest.
They’re the best because you can do something about them. If a prospect simply doesn’t like you there’s little you can do; if a prospect loses interest for one of these reasons, you have the possibility (or the opportunity) to change this behavior and improve yourself. If you do notice any of these behaviors in yourself, I encourage you to become active: either change it yourself or seek advice and guidance.
1. Product focus rather than prospect focus.
Your opener is about your product. Your qualification and questioning is only around your product. Your positioning is, you guessed it, about your product. You hardly consider the prospect’s words, and certainly ignore their needs. You’re essentially a product solipsist: anything else isn’t real, and must not be allowed to interfere with your proclamations of its excellence.
Obviously, you’re never entirely that caught up in the product. I hope. You may, however, show signs of walking along that path. If you think you do, then take a step back and reevaluate your approach.
Prospects deserve to be treated with respect. Their points of view should be considered, their questions answered, their needs met, their visions addressed. They should not be a sideline to your pronouncements of the product; in fact, quite the reverse. They should be at the core of your conversation, with the product a distant second. You know you sell it, they know you sell it. That should be enough until you discover precisely how you (not, you may notice, the product) can help them.
This behavior also ties into communications skills. A solipsistic approach to client interactions will by necessity include a similar approach to prospect communication. The best idea is to change your focus to one of complete prospect-centricity. You must make their success a core part of your approach, and position yourself as an expert advisor seeking to help them attain it.
2. Poor research and preparation.
You take each call as it comes. After all, you’ve been at it for a while now, and know how it goes. You know the roles you’re talking to, and their probable issues. You know their companies even without researching them, and know what they’ll need, right?
There are two disservices you are doing here: the first is to yourself and your company, and the second is to the prospect. Starting with the latter: your prospects may not be aware of the possibilities of your product or your expertise. They may think they know what they are seeking, but will end up dissatisfied with it because it is inappropriate for their business model. Or they may never discover what else it can do, and how it can be leveraged for their success.
Likewise, by ignoring the vital step of research, you weaken your value proposition, your value as an expert, and your ability to provide the prospect with a vision. You’re not helping your company by working faster; you’re hindering their growth by gaining clients who aren’t utilizing the products to their full potential. Furthermore, by skipping the research into their business model, you’re losing any cross-sell or up-sell possibilities right off the bat.
But all of that wouldn’t even be so bad assuming you sell. What’s worse is you’re not respecting your prospect’s time. If they have to explain everything to you, they may wonder why they’re wasting their time with you. Both you and your company will lose credibility in their eyes.
The fix, of course, is fairly easy: make a point of looking at their company and the prospect. There’s really no excuse not to; the information is usually freely available online. It may cost you a little time, sure, but your deals will be larger and more robust, and the clients you win will be clients for life.
3. You don’t provide any value.
The above point already hints at this one. You tend to go into a conversation with the sole desire of selling. The only value you want to provide is to yourself with that closed deal; you’re wholly unconcerned with the prospect’s needs, wants, or vision. After all, you’re just there to close the deal. The prospect gets what they want, you get what you want, everyone’s happy.
Saying this is identical to saying you’re uninterested in differentiating yourself. What are you really bringing to the conversation? Nothing is what. They could just as easily have purchased online, and avoided dealing with another sales drone.
The title of this section includes the word provide, and that’s also the key here: you need to seek out ways you can improve the prospect’s life. For every prospect you must make the success of their company the core of your transaction. You are an expert your field, and you should proactively use that expertise to this end.
By providing value you’re building a solid foundation for your relationship; you’re basing it on a mutually beneficial exchange. This serves to increase trust on both sides, and immediately positions you as a reference for them. Your utility beyond selling a product is what sets you head and shoulders above the competition. It’s therefore a good idea to take the time and consider the benefit you can bring the prospect before you pick up the phone or head out for the meeting.
There are, of course, many other ways to lose a prospect’s interest, but many of them can be rectified by attention to these. The single best way to keep your prospect’s interest is to focus on them. Learn everything you can about the company, and give careful consideration to the ways in which either you or your product can help them succeed. And by succeed I don’t only mean meet their needs; go beyond that, and think about how they can take their company to the next level. They’ll be thinking about it regardless, and if you can provide vision, you’ll become invaluable.
As ever, I wish you all the best and hope this has been useful to you.
Do you agree with what I wrote here? Disagree? Did I miss something? Could I have done something better? Please let me know in the comments!