Prospect Your Way to Selling Success – Step 4: Remove Tension

Is this the attitude you want to convey to your prospects? Of course not.
So remove the tension.

Steps one, two and three focused on navigating the obvious barriers to getting more meetings with decision makers.

This next step is about addressing perhaps the most ominous challenge – one that’s never verbally communicated but is always present.

Step Four: Remove the Tension

In almost every interaction between seller and prospect, a certain tension exists. You, the seller, want a meeting and the chance to hopefully earn a commission or bonus, and in some cases, to keep your job. The prospect wants to protect their time and wallet, while avoiding the almost inevitable confrontation that occurs when trying to sidestep an unwanted sales call.

Regardless of your motive, thanks to the title on your business card, that tension exists.

This makes prospecting, over the phone or in person, stressful for both you and your prospect. It’s almost as if you have been forced into an uncomfortable tug-of-war, where your only option is to either tug/force the person from their position of disinterest or throw in the towel and walk away saying, “I’m just not gonna play that game.” These options are not only awkward for both parties, but they don’t bring about the desired result.

The more you pull, the more resistance you create. But if you don’t play, you can’t win.

This is the primary reason that success is only achieved with an infinitesimally small percentage of people, prospects who are actively looking for the product or solution that you offer and don’t know who to call. The problem is, most sellers can’t hit their numbers only through referrals, or by slogging through countless hours of rejection trying to connect with the rare prospect awaiting your call or email.

So, as sellers, where does this leave us?

Luckily, there’s a solution: Drop the Rope®.

Resist the urge to enter a tug-of-war with your prospect. Instead, try something counterintuitive, something that will separate you from the typical sales rep. Remove the tension by “dropping the rope.”

Communicate that your solution may not be a fit, that you’re not sure yet if there is a need to meet.  This demonstrates that you won’t attempt to force the prospect to stay on the phone. If you allow them to leave, they are more likely to stay.

Say things like:

“My goal is to briefly discuss ______ (answer the question “Why meet?” from  Step 2), then you can decide if it makes sense to continue this conversation.”

“You sound jammed, I’m not sure if there is even a need for….” (see Step 2).

“I’ve heard ____ is a great company. I’m not sure if it even makes sense to consider another supplier. If you have a few minutes, I would just like to learn more about how….”

The key here is mindset. Remember that you know very little about the person you are calling. All assumptions are arrogant. So, state the obvious. You don’t know what they need, you don’t know all the options they are faced with or what path may be in their best interest. And by putting all the options on the table, positive and negative, you are much more likely to influence those decision makers that need to be influenced in order for you to win the sale.

Bottom line, there are two hurdles to getting a meeting:

The prospect’s resistance to being “sold to” and

Finding people who have a genuine need for what you have to offer.

If you Drop the Rope®, the first, greatest and most emotionally-taxing barrier disappears.


Next, in Step 5, I’ll share with you the final ingredient to a successful prospecting strategy. It’s the step that offers the most encouragement for those of you who live and die by a healthy pipeline.


Subscribe to our newsletter to have that final Step 5 strategy delivered straight to your inbox!

As Co-founder and CEO, Tom’s primary role is to create content that helps people live, sell, and serve more effectively. Find him on LinkedIn

Leave a Comment


The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.