One of my favorite expressions used by salespeople when talking about the prospect that’s no longer a prospect, usually after a bad call, is “They just don’t get it.” They don’t get that their operation is in trouble, that their current solution is junk, that if they just let us help them, all would be well. What a perfectly, all-encapsulating indictment of the people we depend upon for our income.

But, is it true? Do they really not get it? Are you sure? Or, could it be something else?

Possible reasons


There are numerous reasons why a prospect says no (or nothing) to your offering. And, here are just a few:

1. They don’t get it because they don’t speak your language – If you attempted to communicate your message in English to a non-English speaking person, is it really their fault if they don’t understand you? Even if English is the primary tongue of our prospect we still may be communicating to them in a language with which they’re not familiar. Jargon, acronyms, leading edge terms could well be confusing as heck to a prospect. And, as we all know, confused buyers don’t buy. Isn’t it our job as salespeople to put our message in terms that the prospect understands so there’s a better chance they get it?

2. They get it but don’t believe it – even if the prospect understands what you’re saying doesn’t mean that they’re “buying it”. (Pun intended). If you’re offering more hyperbole than proof, why should they believe it? “Too much fluff causes buyers to say enough.” (Rhyme intended). Even salespeople with a good track record with a long-term client still need to provide proof on new ideas that they’re presenting.

3. They don’t believe it will work for them – in this instance, the prospect gets it and believes that it works…for someone else. The problem is they don’t think it will work for them. Maybe they think they’re different than the client you cited where it worked, or that the conditions are different within their organization, or that their people are just not as capable (lack of resources, lack of training).

4. It’s not a pressing need for them – even if the prospect gets it, believes it, and thinks it could work for them, the problem your solution solves just isn’t big enough for them. Problems that aren’t perceived as big enough to leapfrog over other needs make for a very hard sell.

In summary

So, in the first instance, the salesperson didn’t speak the buyer’s language. In the second, not enough proof was offered. In the third, the salesperson didn’t show how the prospect could achieve the results in their own company. In the fourth, the salesperson didn’t uncover enough impact to build the momentum necessary to get buyer movement.

Of course every one of these issues can be addressed with good coaching and training. But, it first starts with recognition.

And if the salesperson doesn’t recognize that, now who doesn’t get it?

…Until next time

Can sales skills be learned online?

I was always of the belief that sales strategy & sales tactics could be taught online, but that skills improvement needed to be done in a face-to-face environment (in an onsite workshop). But that’s no longer the case as we’re proving in two pilot sessions being conducted for my business banker clients. If you’re interested in how to bump up your skills (questioning, listening, presenting), 90 minutes a week, all from your workplace or home, contact me at for more information. This is not only where adult education is headed…it’s already there. And, it’s where I’m headed.

This column is sponsored by The LaBarbera Group which provides executive coaching and sales education for those involved in complex, competitive sales. Bob LaBarbera has been a student and teacher of the complex sale for over 30 years. He can be reached at Contact Bob for a free consultation to see if he can help you and your team have your best year ever.


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