In an August 2004 article, international speaker and sales coach Joe Heller indicated that indifference is the greatest competitor a salesperson faces. This attitude projected by a prospect is more inhibiting to creating a sale than a competing salesperson. Thus, to overcome indifference, successful salespeople understand the challenge, find out the root of the indifference and give the prospect a reason to care.

Get on the prospect's good side. Before you even worry about an attitude of indifference or how to deal with it, you want your prospect to feel a sense of comfort with you. In fact, being likable or putting your prospect at ease is a key first step in addressing indifference.

Ask questions. Typically, you first notice indifference when a prospect shows little response to your questions or lacks enthusiasm. Still, you have to continue to ask questions to unearth what makes the prospect indifferent. Typically, he is indifferent if he sees no reason to get excited about your offering. This may result from satisfaction in a current solution, little familiarity with your company or product, or a lack of awareness that a need exists.

Draw out concerns. Once you identify the root of indifference, you can more effectively deal with it. If a prospect doesn't realize a need exists, for instance, help him see that it does. A vacuum cleaner salesperson won't get a homeowner excited by asking if he needs a vacuum, since he already has one. However, if you find out he has a $150 basic model and ask "Can I show you a solution that digs deeper to cut ground-in dirt and stains, has the versatility to clean drapes, walls and couch cushions, and is guaranteed to last for 10 years?" you may pique his interest.

Show him your stuff. Nothing will overcome an indifferent customer quicker than a high-impact product demonstration that makes your product's benefits clear. This is why premium vacuum sellers want to get in the door, car salesman want to get a buyer behind the wheel, and electronics retailers have demo displays for customers to test out. Get the prospect involved in the demonstration and you also instill a sense of ownership, which gets to his emotions.

Overcome remaining objections. A demonstration helps get past product-related concerns. Ask what other concerns your prospect has before closing the deal. Service issues and price are other common challenges. Be prepared to indicate what your company offers for warranties and after-sale support. A cost-benefit analysis and a re-emphasis of your benefits relative to competitors can help with price-related concerns. Once you have overcome all objectives, your buyer's indifference should be effectively converted into readiness for a close.