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Our prospects (un)intentionally say or do things to put pressure on us and push us into their system for buying, which turns us into a commodity (whether we’re literally a commodity or not).

One-way prospects attempt to put pressure on us is by not saying or doing what they said they would say or do. For example, they might have committed to doing some homework prior to our discovery meeting, but when we arrive it isn’t done because they “forgot” or “something came up.”

When there’s a disconnect between what our prospect said or did and what they said they would say, or do we can stay in control of the conversation and our sales cycle by being confused.

For example:

  • Prospect – yeah, something came up and I forgot to get the information I said I would get. So, tell me, what can you do for me?
  • Salesperson – thanks for asking, Prospect. I’m a little confused. When we set up this visit, I thought I heard that there would be no issue getting that information for our visit today. Information we need for us to determine if we can do anything for you much less what it is that would be a good fit. What do you suggest we do?
  • Prospect – well, if you give me a minute, I can get that information for you if I can share my screen.
  • Salesperson – sounds good.


That’s a simplified version of how a “I’m confused” conversation might go. If our prospect is playing a game with us, we might need to do a few more laps before we either disqualify or our prospect comes up with a workable solution.

Being confused pays off in three ways as it relates to maintaining control of our sales cycle.

  1. We put the limbic brain to rest – when someone, professionally or personally, breaks a commitment we might want to react back at them from our limbic brain (home of flight, freeze or fight, the last being most probable). By going with a response like “I’m confused” we switch over to our higher-level brain functions and reduce the chances of us saying or doing something to break rapport.
  2. We remain in information gathering mode – Sandler Rule, sales professionals get paid based on the information that they gather rather than the information that they give. Being confused keeps us on the side of gathering information.
  3. We allow our prospect to self-discover a solution – leveraging another Sandler Rule, they can’t argue with their own data. As part of “I’m confused” we restate the commitment we thought we heard our prospect make. By letting our prospect hear their own data we stay away from being perceived as a pushy salesperson and don’t get trapped negotiating against ourselves. We also avoid getting trapped in a game of “why don’t you… yes, but” with our prospect because they are coming up with a solution to a problem of their creation.

We can’t be confused all the time. Ideally, we would never need to be confused because our prospect would keep their commitments; however, being confused asserts our right to be treated as an equal in the sales conversation and puts the pressure back where it belongs… on our prospect.

Until next time… go sell something.

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