Watch CBSN Live

QUIZ: How To Save a Failing Sales Call

Scenario: You're meeting face-to-face with a prospect for the first time. You've done your planning and your research and you've entered the meeting with the right attitude. Even so, the prospect seems disengaged and uncommunicative, and you're not learning anything useful or moving the sales forward. If something doesn't change quickly, the sales call is clearly going to be a waste of time.

Here are four strategies. Pick the one most likely to work:

  • STRATEGY #1: Ask a company-specific question. Example: "The economy is tough, but your company seems to be doing pretty well. Why is that?"
  • STRATEGY #2: Address the situation directly. Example: "Gee, you seem a bit distracted. Is everything OK? Is this a bad time?"
  • STRATEGY #3: Ask a rapport-building question. Example: "How did you end up in such an interesting job in such an unusual industry?"
  • STRATEGY #4: Reschedule for another time. Example: "I can tell that you're really busy. When would be a better time to talk?

All these responses might work, but some are more likely to work than others. Here's how I'd rank them, from best to worst:
  • BEST=#2. You need to figure out if there's an elephant in the room before trying to move the sale forward. You might find out that the prospect isn't really a prospect -- something it's better to know now than later.
  • SECOND BEST=#1. This might get the conversation going in the right direction, but if the prospect is truly distracted, the question might just get shrugged off. Worse, it might annoy the prospect.
  • THIRD BEST=#3. This would only work if you've already built up a fair amount of rapport, which doesn't appear to be the case. And there's always a possibility you'll end up sounding smarmy.
  • WORST=#4. Face-to-face calls are difficult enough to get and simply postponing might result in the same situation later. Also, you run the risk of seeming rude and critical towards the prospect.
READERS: Frankly, I'm not in love with ANY of the strategies that I've presented in this quiz. So I have to ask: What other strategies are available? What works for you in this situation?
View CBS News In