How to Not Waste Time With People Who Can’t Buy Your Stuff

Tanner Green2024-01-29

It is really easy to get caught in the trap of talking to people that want your stuff, but aren’t able to buy it for one reason or another.


The discovery call sets the stage for every subsequent interaction with the customer. The main point of this piece of the sales process is to "discover" why the customer has decided to consider buying your stuff in the first place. There are key pieces of information that often get overlooked which, if not "discovered", will affect the rest of the sale and leave you feeling like an idiot. I like to call these "HARD STOPS". The hard stops must be found before anything else because they define the feasible deliverability of the product you are trying to sell in the first place! You must be able to solve the customer problem before diving into how you're going to do it. If you can't get around these hard stops, the sale should never happen no matter how good you are. Let me show you what I mean...


At Next LvL, we handle sales admin work on behalf of the rep who is making the sale. Every note, property, and follow-up task is automatically updated in the CRM without the rep lifting a finger. The key ingredient to our software is the ability to grab the transcript after every call so our model can work its magic. This is important for the story, so remember that.

I recently had an awesome discovery call. I was on fire, the customer was stoked, and everything was going better than expected. I heard his pains, showed him our solution, and incredibly guided him on his journey to discovering that our product is incredible and he needs it. We set a meeting with his VP of sales and I was so excited.

A few days later, I hopped on the call with the VP of sales who seemed a little skeptical at first. He bombarded me with questions, yet I answered them faster and smoother than Muhammed Ali dodged jabs and threw punches. He was thoroughly impressed.

Toward the end of the call, he went from pleasant to puzzled in an instant.

"A thought just occurred to me," he said, "how does your software work if we can't record calls?"


Turns out, their security protocol won't allow sales reps to record ANY calls. I was immediately depressed and wished him luck on his recordless journey. It then dawned on me that at no point during the entire sale had I asked "Can you guys record calls?" Kind of seems like a no-brainer I know, but it's those types of things that can give you nightmares when they're about to sign the dotted line.

Assumptions are a dangerous game, especially in sales. Always, always, always get the hard stops out of the way before diving too deep into the sale. I promise this will save you heaps and heaps of wasted hours.

Catching the "Hard Stops"

Hard stops, in this context, are the determining factors that prevent you from delivering your product to the customer and providing real value. If you ask for a hamburger at an ice cream shop, you can pretty much guess what the answer is going to be...

You know the answer to these questions way before the customer does. Before you start asking discovery questions to find their pain points, it's helpful to ask yourself these 3 seemingly obvious questions:

1. "Is what I'm selling even remotely relevant to my customer?" 2. "Are there any obstacles that would be relatively impossible to overcome?"

3. "If I were in their shoes, knowing what I know about the product, would I sell this to myself?"

I know this may seem like a dumb exercise but trust me, it's much harder to spot in a call than you think. The point I am trying to make is these hard-stop questions are so obvious they tend to go unnoticed. Fundamentals are essential. When we brush over them, we lose our way in the sale and are forced to get by on charisma alone.

Hard Stops vs Pain Points

The distinction between questions that address hard stops and pain points is subtle but significant. Pain-point questions delve into the customer's needs and problems, seeking to understand what challenges they face. On the other hand, hard-stop questions are geared toward assessing whether our product can solve their pain points in the first place.

If you are trying to solve everyone's problem, you quickly become a solution for no one. These hard stops are the entryway to being able to solve their problem. Only then can you start asking about their challenges and goals.

A great mindset shift you can make is to disqualify instead of qualify. Looking for all the reasons you can't help them makes decisions much clearer in your head. Cutting a piece of paper is much easier than trying to put them all back together. Use this to your advantage so you can quickly eliminate all options and focus on the one or two paths left.


The discovery call sets the tone for the pathway to a sale. Find the dead ends before doing anything else and you avoid a lot of backtracking and wasted time. Once you've eliminated all the wrong paths, you can then find the one that fits best for your customer. This may seem obvious, but it will cause a lot of heartache if you accidentally go down a dead-end road because you weren't paying attention.

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