Friendly with a Motive

The contact at your dream client is receptive. She’s even more than that: she’s friendly! She takes your phone calls. She even takes your meetings. She gives off every signal that you’ve found a power sponsor.

But for some reason, you never create an opportunity. Or, your opportunity is never advanced. Why?

Your contact is a friendly with a motive.

Keeping You Out

Believe it or not, there are some contacts within your target prospects that appear friendly but who are actually hostiles. They meet with you so they can gather information. They gather information so they can bury you with it. They use your own words to build a case against you. When they caucus with their peers, they tell them you aren’t worth letting in.

You usually run into a “friendly with a motive” when they have a horse in the race. They don’t want you to come between them and their existing relationship. So, they refuse to let you past. They prevent you from meeting all of the stakeholders you need. These contacts work to keep you out.

Their Master’s Bidding

Some of the contacts that aren’t as friendly as they appear are protecting their managers from salespeople.

These contacts are usually very nice and very competent. This combination makes them perfect for reaching out to salespeople to gather information.Their personable demeanor makes them professional. But they were chosen for this task because their competence and professionalism can keep you tied up in knots. They can collect the information they need, all the while protecting their superiors from having to deal with salespeople.

The End of Power

Some contacts you come across have limited power to create an opportunity. These friendlies enjoy meeting with the salespeople. They like to discuss their problems and challenges. You can easily get their time, and they have dissatisfaction to go along with their receptiveness. It feels like a real opportunity.

Bu if this “friendly” were to disclose to you that she doesn’t have the authority to create an opportunity, you’d go around her. Or you’d go over her. You’d do something that allows you to create an opportunity.

Her power ends with her ability to give you meeting. Her power is found in her ability to say “no” to letting you past. She loses her authority by doing so. And she also loses your attention. So she plays rope-a-dope, keeping you engaged in a non-opportunity.

A Friendly Mistake

It’s easy to get trapped by receptivity. It’s especially easy when someone seems truly interested in gaining our help.

Sometimes we trap ourselves by getting locked into a low-level contact. We invest so much in the relationship that it’s uncomfortable to obtain other contacts—the contacts we need to create an opportunity. By spending so much time with a friendly, we make it more likely that they are put off when we have to go around them.

You prevent this mistake by determining very early on who all the stakeholders are. By determining who the stakeholders are, you can establish with your friendly that you are going to need to bring decision-makers and influencers into the process early. The earlier you set the ground rules, the sooner you create an opportunity. And the more you prevent your friendly with a motive from burying you.


Have you ever been trapped by a contact that is friendly, engaged, and interested, only to discover that he had no real power?

Why is receptivity so alluring? Why is it so alluring at the beginning of the sales cycle? What else do you really need when you are getting in?

How do you “get around” a contact that is preventing you from getting to the stakeholders that can create an opportunity? What do you do to protect the relationship when they won’t let you pass?

How do you invite other stakeholders into the process early enough to prevent problems later?

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Filed under: Sales

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