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One of the biggest problems many sales people face is the long sales cycle. Their inability to determine if in fact they have a “prospect” versus a “suspect” causes them much trouble. One question I like to ask salespeople is, “Would you rather know the first day upon meeting a suspect or a prospect if you’re going to get the business? Or do you want to go through the sales cycle only to learn that you didn’t win?”

It’s interesting to me that there are almost two schools of thought when it comes to prospecting and working. One is that if you go in and you do a good job, even if you don’t win, you are going to set that position up for the client so when they do want to switch vendors, you will be the one they choose. That’s a good concept. It’s a lot of work to work on accounts you pretty much know you’re not going to get, but it might work for you.

The other option I see happening in the sales world today–and my preferred way–is to identify what prospects or suspects will actually choose to do business with you and then only working on those, thus being very, very selective.

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