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Prospecting & Qualifying

An overview of Sandler rule thirty-one by Ken Seawell

In a previous post I have mentioned my new cadence for prospecting, which follows a strategic, purposeful plan for developing business opportunities with new people. As you may recall, I explained that I follow this order:

Occasionally, I find myself in meetings and it seems like the prospect, for some reason, isn’t being responsive. While this is certainly discouraging, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve learned over time that the reason they’re being unresponsive is that its usually not about me. Perhaps the prospect had a bad experience with a previous salesperson or an uncomfortable conversation with a co-worker. Maybe they’re even thinking about how they got cut off in traffic.

As a salesperson what is your goal? Is it to build good relationships with clients? Is it to establish yourself as a partner in my client’s success? Is it to help my prospect discover the truth? Technically yes, but ultimately, that is not your goal. Your goal is to close the sale, aka “go to the bank.”

Growing up, you might remember when your mom or dad told you to eat your vegetables. And of course, you didn’t want to. No matter what they said, such as “Vegetables help you grow taller” or “Plenty of kids don’t have anything to eat” you resisted and resisted and never ate your vegetables. I suspect, if you were like me, it was the fact that you were told what to do that prompted the resistance. Selling is like eating vegetables.

In life, you are guaranteed to find yourself in situations where you’re under attack, whether rightfully or wrongfully. So, what are you supposed to do in those situations? When it comes to selling, Sandler recommends falling back.


The fear of losing a sale, or losing in general, haunts many professionals across every industry. In fact, it used to be a fear of mine too, before I started with Sandler. But now, I’ve learned how to go into sales meetings without sweat. I’ve learned that the activity of any sales call is to get to the truth, and sometimes that truth is “no.” So I’m happy with the truth I like, which is yes, and the truth I don’t like, which is no.

f the prospect is listening, what aren’t they doing? That’s right, they’re not talking.

In every sales meeting, the prospect should be the one talking and you, as the salesperson, should be the one listening. The Sandler Ratio for salespeople during meetings is 70% listening and 30% talking. By letting them do the talking and making yourself listen, you’ll find out what they really need from you.

Ever finish a presentation and your prospect still needed time to think about your offer? It’s happened to me, and odds are it’s happened to you. This happens because we, as salespeople, put our emphasis in the wrong place.

Too many times we put the emphasis on the proposal and the presentation, thinking it is the “event” that closes the deal. We forget to engage in meaningful dialogue that gets to the root of the issue. By not digging deeper, we limit our success to what we present in the “dog and pony” show.

In my continuing series on the Sandler Rules, let’s talk about Sandler rule number three, “No Mutual Mystification.“ This rule emphasizes the importance of clarity between you and your prospect instead of assuming you are hearing what you want to hear.

The title speaks for itself. Why do people dislike it so much? It’s because they put too much pressure on themselves. Prospecting is about the process of reaching out to people you haven’t done business with in the hopes of making a connection. Reaching out to make connections can take form in many ways; email, social media, cold calls, cold walk-ins, networking events, talks, or even standing in line for your morning coffee.


Prospecting is about gauging the prospect’s interest level in scheduling a sales appointment. Too many amateur sales people start selling features and benefits, which may lead the prospect to lose interest in meeting for one of two reasons. The prospect may hear something in your feature and benefit dump that they don’t like or need, ending the opportunity before it began. The prospect may also feel pressured to buy too early in the process, ending any chances of meeting.

Similar to earning compound interest on your money, you can earn compound interest when you prospect. Consider the “interest” you earn in prospecting the lessons you learn from the mistakes you make. Learning from those mistakes results in you becoming a stronger salesperson.

In my continuing series on the Sandler Rules, let’s talk about Sandler rule number ten, “Develop a prospecting awareness.” Many people are uncomfortable prospecting, but as I have mentioned before, you don’t have to like it you just have to do it. If you want to read more on that topic, click here. In my experience, the problem people have with prospecting is that they do not know how.

Too many salespeople rely upon a false premise as they attempt to “qualify” and develop a selling opportunity.

Ask salespeople to list their least favorite selling activities, and you can count on “prospecting” being at the top of the list. And, the least favorite of all prospecting activities is unquestionably making cold calls.

Have you ever seen a prospect’s eyes glaze over? Most professional salespeople have had this experience. Maybe you have, too.