Sales Coach Christine Harrington
Are you aware of red flags

Are You Aware of Red Flags when Prospecting? What are They and How to See the Hazards

Before I begin telling you how to spot red flags, it’s first important for you to know, I can be dumber than a box of rocks. And I’m known to repeat the same stupid mistakes over and over. The most important thing I’ve learned through my sales mistakes is how to spot red flags. It saved me time and money. It will save you as well. 

Being aware of red flags as a prospecting strategy is essential if you care about your time. Are you beating a dead prospecting horse because you either ignored or hoped the prospect would drink the water you’re selling?

Are you aware of red flags when prospecting?

The top sale pro’s consistently “see” the red flags that others spend valuable time and resources trying to convert. Red flags can threaten your sales and sales goals if left unchecked.

In this article, you’ll learn 5 automatic red flags. Let’s dive in to discover the hazards

Red Flag #1 Buying Role

Here is a critical red flag, if you don’t know or understand the buying role of each prospect. Doesn’t matter if it’s B2B or B2C selling. Who’s the decision maker? Are there more than one? Are there people who may not make the final decision, but who definitely influence the decision maker by providing requested feedback. Who’s the key player and who are the minor players?

Look at every prospect and assess the red flags based on missing information that’s critical for moving the sale forward and who the right people are to move the sale forward.

Often times salespeople tell me they’ve got that information stored in their head.


Put the information in your CRM or at the very least down on paper so you have a visual and can actually “see” the gaps. My guess is you’ll be surprised at how many red flags suddenly pop up into your awareness.

Red Flag #2 Credible Information

Is the information you’ve gathered 100% credible or do you have some degree of uncertainty? Be honest about this. Do you have some data that are compatible with the sale but uncertain about what it means to close the sale? Or do you lack the compatible data and know it?

Unless you have 100% credible information, then you have a red flag that needs more compatible data so as not to be a hazard to close the sale.

Red Flag #3 Decision makers not contacted

Any buyer (key player or minor player) that has not been identified or contacted as a decision maker is a definite hazard to the sale. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to contact everyone. It’s better to be strategic about this and assign the best person on your team as a touch point to the buyer. It could be your account manager is assigned a specific minor player or the implementation team may be assigned the key player. It may be different for every prospect. Nonetheless, it’s important for you to coordinate all areas of responsibility to the best players on your team. It could be you in all cases. Only you can completely assess the situation.

On one complex sale, I was involved with in my insurance days, it made sense to get our corporate attorney involved to review contractual agreements. We worked it out and it cinched the deal. It was successful because of this one element:

You must cover all the buyers for each of their objections.

Red Flag #4 A New Face to the Company

This hazard is a hidden red flag, because you may be completely unaware of the new sheriff in town. This by far, is the most frustrating red flag, because the new face often brings with them old trusted relationships! AND can often delay the sale.


A new face can come in the form of a consultant the buyer brings in to make an assessment. BEWARE. Don’t ignore the consultant or take the consultant for granted. Bring the consultant in on the deal so you can establish what’s in the best interest of the buyer. A consultant doesn’t have to be a hazard. Ignored and the consultant will become a threat.

Red Flag #5 Reorg of the Company

Reorgs were not that common 30 years ago. In today’s market, it seems companies reorganize every other year! Large companies it’s very easy to spot reorg through acquisitions and mergers. Middle to small size markets, it’s much harder to spot.

And what if it’s only an internal reorg? That can be very difficult, especially when all the titles stay the same but the authority has been redistributed. Most people don’t want to say they lost their power!

Stupid Mistake

I got burned on this…once! A company I was prospecting for group insurance had an internal reorganization with none of the titles changing but all authority had been redistributed. The key player I had been working with for 6 months, didn’t reveal he was no longer the primary decision maker. He was embarrassed to tell me the truth. So he strung me along, month after month.

At a networking event, another vendor approached me and said: “I was shocked you didn’t get that deal.” She went on to tell me what she knew and that my key player contact had been removed from the buying decision. You can say I left that networking event with my pantyhose in a twist!


If you become aware of internal reorgs, be sure and re-identify ALL the key players and minor players.

These 5 red flags are not the only red flags you should be concerned with, but they are the most common and dangerous ones you’ll consistently encounter. Use this red flag strategy to improve closing sales.


Does this sound like you?

  • You find yourself glancing around looking for answers because you’re in a sales slump and have no idea how to move forward.
  • Often, you experience difficulty in finding the right words to use when speaking to a prospect.
  • Your focus is challenged so you have difficulty completing tasks with weeks of unproductive selling.

The good news is, I can help.

Simply fill out the form below. In the message section, ask to schedule a 30-minute complimentary Introductory call. We can fix this and other pressing issues you need help with!

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