As salespeople, we know that the discovery call (the initial call between a sales rep and a prospect) can make or break a sales cycle. Done well, a discovery call will allow salespeople to gather the intel they need to run an efficient sales cycle (and frankly, even if you’re not in sales you probably can still apply some of these tips in your role). But during this process, salespeople often miss the warning signs—sometimes very small signs—that they may be starting an evaluation (the process of evaluating and purchasing a product) with a person that’s never going to lead to a sale. But, I’m sure we can all agree that there are obvious reasons these warning signs slip by us, whether it’s a lack of experience, or inattentiveness on our part, or only hearing what we want to hear.

But if salespeople are able to recognize some of the warning signs early on, they would be able to:

  • Win more deals: Identifying red flags and addressing them early gives you an advantage over your competitors in the deal.
  • Save time and resources: Demos, follow-up calls, references—all of these activities take time, and if there is little to no chance of a signed contract at the end, then resources are being poured down the drain. It’s much better to focus on deals that have the potential to close.
  • Forecast more accurately: Thorough questioning will make deals much more predictable and further the reputation for reliability of a sales professional. Also, it will spare them from having to explain why a deal they felt great about fell apart mid-flight.

That’s why I’m writing this blog: to help other salespeople in the B2B SaaS sales space recognize the red flags and nip ‘em in the bud before it’s too late. Let’s make the most of our valuable time together!

With that being said, I present to you five red flag responses you’ll hear from prospects followed by questions you should ask them in order to turn the call back around in your favor:

1. “Price is not an issue as long as we see value.”

What this often means: “We are not worried about the price because we haven’t given any thought to actually investing in your solution. We are just doing research and would rather see a custom demo than a recording.”

Questions you, the salesperson, can ask to further qualify the prospect:

  • How are you going to be measuring the value of a solution?
  • Which challenges or goals are you looking to solve for by exploring our solution?
  • Company X (which is similar to you) achieved X, Y, and Z by using our solution. Is this in line with the type of value you are hoping to gain?

2. “We don’t have a set timeline, but we can move quickly.”

What this often means: “This isn’t solving something immediate for us. There is no initiative to have this type of solution implemented.”

Questions you can ask to further qualify the prospect:

  • Why are you looking at something now, rather than next quarter/year?
  • What happens if you do nothing?
  • Do you have other initiatives that would potentially compete for the same resources?
  • When I hear that there is no timeline, it’s often because there isn’t an immediate need. I’m not saying that’s the case here, so do you feel comfortable getting to a decision within (insert your average deal cycle)?

3. “No one else will need to be involved in a demo.”

What this often means: “No one else knows that I’m currently doing this evaluation.”

Questions you can ask to further qualify the prospect:

  • If we proceed and do a product demo and you love what you see, what happens then?
  • Who’s budget would this be coming from, and if it is yours, are you able to sign off on an agreement?
  • If your boss is not going to be on the demo but will be the one signing, how will he/she make his evaluation?
  • Have you ever run an evaluation like this at your current company?

4. “We are not going to share who else we are evaluating.”

What this often means: “We do not trust you to provide valuable insight. We are only evaluating because we have to. We may have already made up our minds about the solution we are buying.”

Questions you can ask to further qualify prospect:

  • The reason I asked who else you are evaluating is because as we go through our product demonstration, I could highlight some of the differences between the solutions. Would you be interested in that?
  • I know there are a lot of vendors in the space and it can be difficult to distinguish between them. On that note, I have some third-party resources I could send over to help you in the evaluation; I would just need your input into which vendors you would like more insight on.
  • If that is the case, and it’s fine that it is, I will go ahead and assume it’s X and Z (pick your two top competitors) and lay out some differentiators between the platforms as we go along to help you distinguish our solutions. Does that sound fair?

5. “I’m going to run this until we hire someone.”

What this often means: “I am a founder/CEO/executive who is extremely busy and realistically do not have the resources to onboard and succeed with most business grade SaaS solutions. I am likely shopping now to prepare for a later date when I have the right team members in place.”

Questions you can ask to further qualify the prospect:

  • Candidly speaking, most of our customers have a dedicated resource to onboard and successfully run our solution. Is it realistic to think that you would have the time to do that given your current responsibilities?
  • Our enablement process requires (X) hours of dedicated time and most customers spend (Y) hours per week running our solution. Is that in line with your expectations?
  • Have you begun the search for the person who will be dedicated to this down the road, and if so, have you found anyone you like yet?

So, what happens when you inevitably come across one or more of these red flag responses during the discovery phase of the sales process? It’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as you are able to drill down and get the answers you need to either disqualify the prospect or gather the right information to execute a successful sales cycle. Having more information than your competition and spending less time chasing deals that will never close will lead to more wins. It’s that simple.

So, to all my fellow salespeople out there, Happy Selling! And if any of you have other examples or stories please share them in the comments section below.