How To Get Your Prospects To Stop Ignoring You

Neuroscience teaches us that there are two chemicals in the brain that sales execs, entrepreneurs, and influencers need to be cognizant of: cortisol (known as the stress chemical) and dopamine (known as the feel-good chemical). When we make a sales call to a prospect, we are received as an inconvenience, an interruption in the day. Add to that the fact that prospects want to protect themselves from sales people trying to sell them things they don’t need. So just by calling or emailing someone, we are raising their cortisol level.


As sales people it is our job to create an environment that our prospects will respond to, and that all comes down to how you engage your prospects and customers. It is impossible to influence someone who is in a high state of stress or protection. Top producers know this and understand that their first task is to reduce the cortisol and raise the dopamine level, enabling the prospect or customer to be comfortable enough to listen and participate in a creative conversation on how to move forward.

As a keynote speaker and sales and leadership expert, I am all about helping clients learn how to better IMPACT their customers and markets. In my 28 years of research, I have discovered seven things sales people do that poison the sales environment. These seven mistakes raise prospects’ cortisol levels to new heights and get in the way of a successful sale.

  1. PUKE (People who Utter Knowledge about Everything)—if you really want to raise someone’s cortisol level, start the conversation by PUKING about all of the features you have to offer without offering any context of what it means to the customer. Being self-focused shuts down prospects—fast.
  2. Do All The Talking—People tend to believe they are more in control when they are talking, when, in fact, the opposite is true. The one listening is more in control than the one doing the talking. When you do the listening, it allows the customer to engage verbally and truly feel a part of the conversation. This is how you know what is important to the customer, and it helps the customer feel that their concerns and issues are understood.  When you engage the customer by listening, you will see a reduction in their resistance and an openness to continue the conversation.
  3. Asking the Wrong Questions—Sales execs all too often ask questions that do not warrant their prospects’ time and attention. Questions like “Who are you currently buying from?” have no place in the beginning of the conversation.  Why would a prospect divulge that information? By asking this question and others like it early on, you only raise their stress level. Ask questions about a prospect’s goals and challenges and what they are trying to accomplish.  This will get their time and attention.
  4. Focus on the Product—Too many sales people focus on the how (their products/services) rather than the what (the outcomes the prospect is after). First find out the outcomes your prospect desires, then present ONLY the features that will support those outcomes. When you sell this way, you are selling in CONTEXT—addressing what is important to the prospect and not wasting their time.  This is how your message will be heard with IMPACT!
  5. Competing, Not Creating—Sales people spend way too much time worrying about their competition rather than spending that time worrying about their prospects. In doing so, they end up having the same sales conversations as their competitors with very little IMPACT! Stop thinking about the competition and start finding out the gaps your prospects are trying to fill. Help them fill those gaps and you will get the business, because when that happens, there is NO COMPETITION!
  6. Business as Usual—Avoid the typical sales approach. The best way to get your prospect’s attention is to challenge their thinking. Instead of saying, “Let me show you a system that will do X,” challenge them by saying, “The three biggest mistakes companies make in procuring [insert your services/products] are: [insert those mistakes here]. And I want to share with you how to you can avoid making these same mistakes.” When you challenge someone, they want to hear validation for what they are doing and/or what they should stop doing.  They love it when someone “shares” best practices in their field.  When they are in this mindset, their cortisol drops and they are more open to hearing what you have to say.  The conversation is now about them, not about you trying to sell a product. Challenge prospects on the outcomes and how they are going to achieve those results.
  7. Wrong Mindset—If You really want to lower your prospect’s cortisol and raise their dopamine, then begin by getting yourself in the right mindset before you call. Forget about making a sales call, which is all about you. Prepare to launch a conversation in which the prospect talks about their issues and you provide solutions as a trusted advisor. You are there to help people, not just sell to them. To switch to a helping mindset, take an interest in what they are doing and what they want to accomplish.

Bottom line: There is one position that technology will never eliminate—sales executives selling value-added services. A website can only do so much to get someone’s business. In competitive sales, there will always be a need for the person who knows how to get the attention of prospects and customers and IMPACT the way they think and operate.

When I open my keynotes, I tell my audiences there being in sales is truly a humbling yet powerful position, and that their success lies more on their actions than on the quality of their products and services.  At the end of the talks, I ask the audience this question: How many of you now truly appreciate the power you have inside of yourself to make a difference in your customer’s life and that the secret to your success lies inside of you?  All the hands go up.

My challenge question to you is this: Do you have this mindset each time you pick up the phone or walk into a meeting with a customer or prospect?

If you want more information on these topics, invite Ron Karr to speak at your next meeting or buy his book (a best seller among CEOs!) Lead, Sell, or Get Out of the Way on Amazon.

3 thoughts on “How To Get Your Prospects To Stop Ignoring You”

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  2. Ron
    – great post! Lately we have been discussing the most effective way to interact
    with prospects. Your comment about focusing on the “what” instead of the “how”
    is very valid and worth consideration for every B2B sales professional. Thanks
    for your work.

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