Prospects lie!

Prospects lie

Is this your prospect talking?

Can you blame them? It’s analogous to the hot girl who gets hit on so much that she tells you that she has a boyfriend or gives you a fake number. It’s just the easiest thing to do to get you off their backs. So how do you, the wannabe Ace Prospector, sniff out those lies and know when there is a real opportunity that you shouldn’t stop pursuing? Read on…
The Client: an international office furniture manufacturing firm
The Prospect: a food manufacturing company with a huge new plant under construction with a brand new state-of-the-art office to be outfitted (a top-notch opportunity)

When I first contacted the client, I was told that they were taking bids from interior designers. A couple of months later, the operations manager told me, “the company president has already selected furniture”. This was in February 2010. Since I knew that they weren’t occupying the new building until 2011 this seemed very doubtful to me. I tried reaching the president directly but his phone was very well defended.
In August I contacted the operations manager again. This time I was told that the interior designer would be assisting with the furniture selection (contradicting his earlier obfuscation). I asked who the interior designer was but he refused to give me the information. He said that if I sent my client’s company info via email that he would forward it to the design firm, so I complied and sent an introductory email. I followed that up with an email detailing a Design Excellence award that my client had recently received for a large well-known office project. He confirmed receipt and said he would forward the information (because of spam filters I always ask prospects to confirm receipt of my emails).
After another week, I sent a follow up asking the operations manager if there had been a response from the interior design firm.
He wrote back and said he had forwarded my latest inquiry. Later the same day, a principal with the design firm emailed saying, “I understand you are eager to work with us on this project. When are you available to meet?”
After my client met with the prospect I was told that no other furniture vendors had gotten in the door to date. No surprise there.
The Takeaway? Learn to distinguish when a prospect is simply trying to blow you off. Listen for inconsistencies in what they tell you. In this case, the prospect tried to tell me that the owner had selected furniture when the company had only just selected a GC. Persistence wins the day every time. You might get a different answer in March than you did in January. Never accept the first response you get as an honest answer. Particularly if you know that the prospect has been getting bombarded with vendors’ inquiries.

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