Prospect Personalities: Are you Speaking to a Deal Killer?

Posted by Chad Levitt

Feb 14, 2013, 1:56 PM

Sales reps beware. There are some types of prospect personalities that might never buy from you. Yes, that's right, sometimes the best thing you can do in sales is realize its best to move on. Focus your efforts on the sales opportunities that have a realistic chance of closing.

As sales reps, we've all been on calls with these two personalities - the raving fan and the miserable grump.  What do these prospect personalities have in common? They will rarely buy from you. No matter what you do or say, no matter how perfectly fit your offering is for their personal aspirations or company. The key is recognizing it early in the sales process, asking the tough questions, and moving on if need be. 

The acclaimed sales author Steve Martin (yes, same name as the actor, different guy though) notably points out in his excellent blog post: Understanding Why You Lose Deals


"The Martin Curve explains a curious aspect of human behavior that I have experienced as a salesperson, vice president of sales, and professional speaker. I have come to realize that in every audience there are people who simply cannot be sold. Even if you walk on water or levitate an elephant in the air, these people will not follow you. Perhaps it’s because of their neurological wiring or maybe the result of some childhood trauma. There’s no way to tell where their close-mindedness came from. Conversely, a similar group of people will fall in love with you instantly, say all the right things, but never buy. They seemed to be enamored with what you have said but don’t follow up with any discernaable action. Both of these groups are fatal for salespeople."

That quote brings back some memories of more than a few prospects over the years. Things I've learned the hard way through making my own mistakes. Fatal the raging fan and miserable grump can be.

Here is what they look like on The Martin Curve.

 Organizing Prospect Personalities

The takeaway here is that most B2B sales today are going through multiple people at various levels of the company. You are going to run into end users, technical influencers, business influencers, financial decision makers and decision makers. The B2B sale brings you in contact with many personalities and the key is to recognize these personalities over time within their functional role at the business.

When you get proficient at quickly recognizing the type of person you are speaking with you can adapt accordingly. For example, the raving fan can be great for gathering account intelligence you can use higher up in the organization. You just can't get stuck with a raving fan that has no juice in the company. You will just spin your tires. As far as the miserable grump, just don't take it personal. They are like this with everyone and there is not much you can do besides recognizing it and having other contacts with juice at the company. Remember, where there is no juice, there is no sale. 

So sales reps beware, you have been fairly warned... be mindful of the raving fan and the miserable grump.




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