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High Performance: The positively negative approach to finding better prospects

April 11, 2018 -  By

The spring season brings the potential for new customers, new properties, and new projects. This is wonderful but only if you can turn the potential opportunities into closed sales. Unfortunately, many opportunities will not result in a sale and only have the potential to drain precious resources during a very busy time of year. The key to sales success is to quickly separate the good opportunities from the bad ones. But how?

Earlier in my career, I discovered the Sandler Selling System and became a President’s Club member. This selling system emphasizes the need for salespeople to identify unqualified prospects and to devote time and energy to qualified prospects. One way to find qualified prospects is to attempt to disqualify prospects by going negative. “Going negative” might not be what you think it is. Let me explain.

When a salesperson asks a question with positive tone, it often comes across to the prospect as overly hopeful, aggressive or even desperate. The prospect recoils, pulls away, and hesitates. The same question asked with negative tone is disarming, passive or even aloof. The prospect moves closer, is drawn in and accelerates. This is true with questioning techniques. It is also true in the context of an overall sales process. The more negative you are, the easier it is to disqualify unqualified prospects.

Here are some examples:

Positive tone: “Do you have time for lunch this week?”
Negative tone: “You probably don’t have time for lunch this week, do you?”

Positive tone: “You should hire us. We’re the greatest.”
Negative tone: “Why do you want to hire us? We’re not right for everyone.”

Do you see the difference? Going negative totally changes the dynamic. Instead of pushing the prospect back on their heels with in-your-face benefits of hiring your company, going negative draws the prospect toward you onto their toes as they begin to convince you why they want to do business with you. Going negative works in almost every situation, even in your personal life. Try it.

Spring is here. Time is precious. You don’t want to waste precious time on unqualified prospects, do you?

Now go forth.


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About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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