Do you Qualify your pipeline by playing the professional devil’s advocate?
When Qualifying a Sale how do you deal with a major concern?

Look for the bad things when you qualify your pipeline


Many salespeople, when they qualify their sales, tend to qualify them by looking for the good things.

‘They have a big problem; I have a good solution to their problem; they have a budget, so let’s go!’ Six months work.

Or ‘I’ve got a really good friend in their organisation who is giving me a lot of information. So, let’s go.’ Six months work.

What they don’t tell you is that the budget is not big enough; there is a consultant involved who has never recommended your company; they never install untried products (which yours is) and your nearest competitor is 70% of your price. You are going to lose.

Many salespeople, when they qualify their sales, tend to qualify them by looking for the good things.

What they should do is look for the bad things. It’s good for their wallet and their company’s wallet.

In any sale, there are always some problems.

These problems are real; they exist; they are not going to disappear by magic; not unless you do something about them.

The real way to qualify a sale is to put a black hat on, be a pessimist. Look for the problems. It’s good for you. It tells you what work is needed.

Two Problems

For many salespeople, particularly experienced ones, this idea creates a couple of problems.


Since they were babies in selling they have been trained to be optimists. Do it now! This is the first day of the rest of your life. Think big. Think positive. Have a Positive Mental Attitude.

There is all this hype and propaganda about a Positive Mental Attitude. Then I, as a Sales Trainer, stand up and say, ‘Be a pessimist. Think negative. Look for the problems – it’s good for you, it tells you what work is needed.’

For many salespeople this idea of being negative does not sit easily on their shoulders.

In fact, that is my problem, not theirs. It’s my job to convince them that it is easy.


To do it properly they do need some sort of checklist. And salespeople hate paperwork. If I give them some form of paperwork to fill in then the first thing they will do is screw it up in a ball and throw it in the bin.

“Thanks, Mike for a bunch of new documentation.”

Again, that’s my problem – not theirs.

So, the question you might well ask is how we can take this simple idea of looking for the problems and package it in such a way that it is fun to do and easy to remember?

This is where the mnemonic SCOTSMAN® comes in.

If you’d like to read more, download our white paper to see how SCOTSMAN® helps you look for the bad things and plan the work needed.

Mike Wilkinson
Mike Wilkinson
Managing Director Advance - Creators of SCOTSMAN®