Your prospect is going to know more about their business culture, key initiatives, processes, and home grown intellectual property than you do. But like you, they can only see as deep as their ego, filters, and comfort zones will allow.

How many times have you been in a sales meeting where the decision maker is nodding his head up and down in sync with what you’re sharing? Your solution seems to be right in line with their problems and challenges, yet you didn’t win the deal. The decision maker chose to do nothing. Has this ever happened to you?

Don’t Avoid the Tough Questions

This happens because you failed to ask the questions that guide your decision maker’s thought process beyond what they have come to expect. Seth Godin writes about this experience in his blog titled “Modern Procrastination.” He talks about why and how we procrastinate doing the tough and important tasks. This got me thinking about sales prospecting.

As easy as it is to stay within the boundaries of your present sales skills and expectations, it’s just as easy for your prospects to do the same. In fact, their risk avoidance may impact their change decision even more than you realize.

The same rules that govern your risk, rejection, and change avoidance in prospecting – asking tough questions, and holding your prospects accountable – also control your prospect’s level of change tolerance.

You don’t like to be reminded of your sales skills that need improving, or your failures in hitting goals, just as your prospects don’t like to be reminded of their ineffectiveness and poor planning.

If you take it a step further, to succeed in your role as a sales professional, you must be comfortable taking risks and scrutinizing your own strengths and weaknesses. On the flip side, your prospects may perceive safety in avoiding risk and sticking with the status quo.

Tough Questions Will Serve You Better

What does this mean to you? Your best questions are the ones the prospect struggles to answer. As a sales professional, you’re not there to acquiesce to the prospect’s reluctance or inability to see the whole picture. You’re there to help them bring the whole picture into view. That’s how you avoid commoditization where your solution is separated from the “feature-benefit” pitfall that most sales reps jump into.

Don’t automatically assume or confuse your prospect’s inability to decide as procrastination. The reality may be that they don’t benefit enough from your solution to move forward.

In the end, who’s smarter? Is it the prospect who procrastinates or the salesperson who allows them to?