Stop Talking to PWOTs

If you’re going to sell anything, you must deal with real prospects. Your challenge as a salesperson is to separate the real prospects from the unreal ones. That’s what qualifying a prospect is all about. Finding real prospects is not difficult but too few salespeople do it and end up wasting their time trying to sell to people who have no intention of buying. This is not good use of your selling time.

Beware of the PWOT!

Why do so many salespeople spend time on PWOTs (Potential Waste of Time)? In some cases, they haven’t learned to recognize one. In other cases, they don’t have anyone else to talk to and would rather spend time with a PWOT than do cold calls or other forms of prospecting.

Another problem with spending time with PWOTs is that you’re not spending your time with someone who might buy something from you.

And if you think a PWOT is bad, try dealing with his close cousin, the DWOT (a Definite Waste of Time).

Why We Do It

A lot of salespeople are heavy-duty people-people and really enjoy talking and socializing with others. Their focus is on developing the relationship and less on developing some business and, as a result, they spend too much time with other nice people-people who just want a relationship or someone to chat with.

Salespeople who have an Amiable personality need to be particularly sensitive to this. People with an Amiable personality are known as Shopkeepers and their strength is in building relationships with their prospects and customers. Sometimes they are so keen on being friendly and building the relationship that they forgo the unpleasantness of having to ask someone to buy something for fear of upsetting the relationship.

We all know that people buy from people they know, people they like, and people they trust. Sometimes you can go overboard on building the rapport and neglect your primary purpose, to help the other person make an informed buying decision.

Identifying Unreal Prospects

As I mentioned, one other reason you can fall into the trap of dealing with PWOTs is because you simply don’t recognize what they look like. Here are some clues to help you detect real prospects from the unreal ones (PWOTs and DWOTs).

PWOTs and other unreal prospects can usually be identified using the following guidelines:

  • Unreal Prospects (UPs) disguise their lack of power. They often try to create the impression that they wield more influence than they really do.
  • UPs resent your asking questions. Your questions put them in danger of exposure.
  • UPs give vague or dissatisfying answers to your specific questions regarding their needs and intentions. It is not their intention to make it easy for you to sell to them.
  • UPs show little respect for your time and effort. These people will often fail to keep appointments, arrive late for meetings, hide behind their voice mail, and can’t be bothered to return your calls.
  • UPs try to get you to alter your standard operating procedures on price, products, terms, etc. By muddying the waters, they delay the ultimate non-decision.
  • UPs will evade questions regarding money or funding.

These unreal prospects are not all bad or thoughtless people. Often, they are fine individuals who simply can’t say “no” to a salesperson because they don’t want to hurt his or her feelings. Sometimes they are ego-driven individuals who live in a make-believe world of self-delusion.

Real Prospects

So what does a real prospect look like? Here are some key characteristics.

  • Real Prospects (RPs) don’t mind your asking questions. They know you need to get certain information if you are to help them make an informed buying decision.
  • RPs are realistic about money. They are not trying to buy two dollar’s worth of business for a dollar. They understand the concept of cost versus value.
  • RPs know where the money is coming from and when it will be available. They know the difference between wished-for money and money in the bank.
  • RPs have a professional, business-like approach to their dealings with you.
  • RPs are clear about when they want to buy. They want results and they know that the sooner they make a decision, the sooner they will get them.
  • RPs value their time and yours. They will hesitate to give you an appointment if they feel it will be a mutual waste of time.

Real salespeople want to spend their time with real prospects so make sure you find out who’s who and start qualifying your way to even greater sales success. Learn to differentiate the real from the unreal and focus on real prospects. You’ll find your sales going up and your frustration going down.

Cut Your Losses

If you suspect you’re investing (wasting) time with a PWOT, extradite yourself from the situation as quickly and courteously as possible and move along. You may end up keeping them as friends or acquaintances. Just don’t let them eat up your valuable selling time.

As you develop your ability to quick-qualify prospects, you’ll find yourself weeding out the real from the unreal and working with an entirely different quality of prospect, prospects who actually want to buy what you are selling.

You’ll end up replacing your PWOTs with buyers and putting more money in your pocket.