To determine if the prospect is not giving you the run around, you need to assess if they have genuine intent to purchase from you. To picture what we are talking about here, imagine a prospect who arrives at a car dealership that needs to purchase a new car, has the money needed for the purchase, and is the ultimate decision maker. Based on strength in those three areas, you could easily view this prospect as being very qualified. But what we do not know is that this prospect has already spent three hours at another dealership where he already performed test drives, decided on a car, and negotiated a price. He then came to the second dealer- ship primarily to get a price comparison to make sure he negotiated a good price at the first dealership. This prospect is weak in the area of genuine intent to purchase from the second dealership because he is very far along in discussions with a competitor and intends to buy from someone else. This type of weakness can be challenging because it is easy to miss, and you can be completely unaware that the prospect has the intent to purchase from someone else.

An example of this in B2B sales is where a prospect sends out an RFP (request for proposal) to many different vendors. When a salesperson receives the RFP, the prospect may appear to be very qualified with all of the details and requirements in the document. That impression would be correct as the prospect most likely has a need to purchase, ability to purchase, and authority to purchase. But the problem is that, in this hypothetical scenario, the prospect is already very far along in discussions with another vendor, and it is actually the other vendor who wrote the RFP and the requirements all match up exactly with the product that the competitor sells. The reason the prospect sent out the RFP was only to comply with a procurement process requirement that requires an RFP to be sent out before certain purchases are made. This means that the prospect does not have the genuine intent to purchase from the other vendors that are sent the RFP.

How to Handle the No Intent Prospect
Identifying that the prospect is very far along in discussions with another vendor does not mean that you cannot persuade him or her to buy from you. More so, it is a reason for you to quickly shift gears in the following areas:

  • Be more cautious about the time you spend with the prospect
  • Get more aggressive on the price you offer
  • Share more information on how you match up against the competition

If we go back to the car example, if you identify that the prospect is extremely far along in discussions with another dealership, this is helpful because you can skip wast- ing time trying to sell the car. Since you know that the prospect is leaning toward the competition, you can skip all of the negotiating and jump straight to your best price. You can also focus on explaining how you compare and differentiate from the other dealership. You can win this business, but you will need to know what you are dealing with so that you can change your strategy.

For the RFP example, if you receive an unsolicited RFP where it is pretty clear that your competition is already involved, don’t spend a week working on the most beautiful proposal because you know it is not a completely qualified prospect. If you want to respond, use boilerplate proposal responses and throw out your best available price and see what happens. In other words, be responsive to requests and questions but don’t put a lot of effort, time, and money at risk as there are probably better prospects to focus on.

How to Identify If the Prospect Has the Intent to Purchase
Here are some qualifying questions to ask to assess how strong the prospect is in the area of intending to purchase from you.

What other options are you considering?
How far along are you in discussions with them?
How do you feel about your other options?
What do you like about them?
What do you not like about them?
How do they compare with what we have to offer?
Is there a reason why you would choose us over them?
If you had to make a decision today, which way would you lean?