Don’t Pre-Qualify your lead

Quote - textgram_1401293202

If you have ever worked in sales for more than a month and received training, you have probably heard this before. Don’t pre-qualify your lead.

What exactly is a lead? What does it mean to pre-qualify a lead? And what the heck does that have to do with relationships?Well, a lead is simply a contact that may…or may not become a customer. It is at best a prospect. Just an opportunity that may or may not result in a commitment.

So what does it mean to pre-qualify a lead?

It’s when a salesperson prematurely tries to quickly determine if a prospect is actually capable of buying so he/she can determine how to treat that prospect. The salesperson quickly sees if the prospect fits the “buyer profile” and if not, the prospect is treated differently.

If the prospect sounds or looks like they have the capacity and intention to buy, the salesperson’s behavior changes. He/she speaks politely, is  patient to hear every word that comes out of the prospect’s mouth and even offers them coffee in the lobby.

However, if they don’t look or smell like money, the unwise salesperson disconnects, makes a mental decision that the person isn’t of much use, and behaves accordingly towards that prospect.

But the truth that any good salesperson knows is that you just never know who your next big customer will be. In fact, some of the biggest customers may be ones that DON’T look or sound like the typical buyer. Many a salesperson has missed out on big fish customers because they were looking for ones that fit the profile.

Same is true in relationships.

Many of us meet people all the time but we pre-qualify them prematurely. That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that our behavior towards them becomes disrespectful and we throw courtesy out of the window. It’s like we are saying, “If you are not dating/marriage material, then you don’t deserve my courtesy and respect as a person”

However, just like in sales, you just never know who your big fish is.

Sometimes (in fact MANY times) the person who can add the most value to your life doesn’t look or sound like the profile you had in mind. (CLICK TO TWEET THAT)

I know some people are reading this and saying “naaahh…that’s not me. I don’t do that….I treat everyone with respect and courtesy”….well, let’s see.

If you are a lady, think about the last 10 guys that showed an interest in you, but you were not interested in. Did they walk away from that situation with their dignity intact? Or did you make the situation awkward for them? Did you use them to pump yourself up with your girlfriend as you flashed her the “please save me from Godzilla” look? Did they walk away kind of embarrassed? Did they walk away saying wow “I’ll never do that again” Or did they walk away feeling like “wow the world is full of great…classy women?

If you are a guy, think about the last 5 ladies that you have shown interest in (but didn’t have an interest in you) or who have shown interest in you (but you had no interest in) and ask yourself those same questions…

You may not have realized it until now but you may be “that girl” or “that guy” that tears down people because you think they are a bother to your “royal eminence” simply because they were not your type or they didn’t “meet your standards”.

I hear ladies all the time saying things like “It’s so frustrating to be approached by all these guys that I have no interest in”.

Oh my my my how terrible that must really be… (to be considered attractive or desirable to the point where guys are willing to take the social risk to approach you) versus not being approached at all…

Just think about that for a moment

Even when you determine that this person is not dating/marriage material, you shouldn’t treat them with less respect or less courtesy than they deserve.

Why, because just like in sales, even if a prospect doesn’t “buy” from you, their positive experience with you may inspire a testimony about you and ultimately result in a referral or introduction to someone who does buy.

So you made a move and SHE wasn’t interested. That’s ok. Keep it moving and still treat her with respect and courtesy. Don’t respond in anger to try to mask the bruise on your ego. That’s petty and immature.

So HE is not dating material. He is “not your type”. That’s ok. Still treat him with respect…still be courteous. How much work did you have to do to become “attractive” in his eyes to be worth approaching? Nothing. HE interpreted something about you that was worth the pursuit. That alone is a compliment. Give him an “A” for effort.

Does all this mean you shouldn’t have standards? NO. Does this mean that everybody you meet is a prospect? Probably not. You should have standards and you should have a good idea of what you want. There is nothing wrong with that.

The problem comes when you leave a trail of rudeness, lack of courtesy, shattered confidence, seeds of anger, broken self-images, and disrespect along the way. The problem is sowing negative seeds in the hearts of people (about themselves and the opposite sex) as they come in contact with you.

In my next post(s), I’ll tell you the specific effect this can have on you and the people that come in your life. I’ll also tell you ways to tell someone you are not interested in them without being rude or insensitive.

UPDATE: Part 2 is out! CLICK HERE For Don’t Pre-Qualify your lead Pt-2 (The effects on you and the other person)

So…how would you rank yourself on the courtesy meter? (Put answers in comments section)

(10 being you are sweet as pie when dealing with people you are NOT interested in and 1 being that you give a taste of bitter olives when you are dealing with people you are NOT interested in)


  • frances

    And what if you tried to politely say no and the person persisted? But the attentions made you uncomfortable and you had to tell the person plainly to stop calling you? Does that count as being rude?

    • You know, Frances, this is a fantastic question! You see, if you REALLY did try to be polite (not just in your head) in a way that would be obvious to him, then you have done what you can do so it doesn’t fit in the “rudeness” that we talk about here.
      The other thing to note is that sometimes, people who we are not interest in, persist because they think that we have not given them a fair chance to let them express what they have to “offer” or that We dont have enough information for us to determine we dont want anything they have to offer. That takes us back to the beginning if we are polite and respectful wen approached, we at least look like we have taken the verbal/non verbal information in, and made a conscious decision that we dont want to pursue anything further. Hope that helps!

      • frances

        Yes sir, it does help.
        Thank you very much

  • Hannah

    This just got me thinking…the whole ‘think about the last 10 guys…’ My attitude hasn’t been the best. Not because I didn’t respect them, but because I didn’t have any other way so show my lack of interest.
    Hence, I await your other posts.

    I reckon I’m a 7:/

    Thank you Tobi.

    • Good deal Hannah…coming up soon!

  • bunmi

    Well said Tobi, am so working on this. on the scale of 1 to 10… I believe am 7. God help me.

  • Ada-ada

    This is really an interesting and relatable read for me especially. Honestly one of my pet peeves is the poor customer service and dissatisfaction in our country especially of when you haven’t purchased anything from such a business place. You can totally sense and see the disconnection instantly and it’s really sad and annoying because one customer coming into a business is a link to a chain of others.
    Now comparing this with human relationships, I must say that I have been guilty of this greatly especially when I was much younger but thank God for me as I began to mature over the years I improved a whole lot (though I was still kinda quick to bluff a guy when his manner of approach was bad and ungentlemanly. )
    I do my best to be better every day and I am very mindful of being very polite and respectful to all in general but I have noticed that sadly with the opposite sex some see it as being flirtatious and see it as a lead sign to approach me and I loose it there at that point sometimes. Just wondering how to grade myself… Guess ill leave it to u. Haha.

  • I believe I am a 7. This article definitely is encouraging me, though. My little bro is a master salesman and he’s been educating me on the use of sales strategies in dating for YEARS NOW. What a great parallel you brought to light. In fact, pull marketing strategies are the best. Your product markets itself, so that you don’t have to say a thing. The buyer knows the quality and is willing to pay the price, even sometimes above market value. That’s when you know there’s a real fit. If you’re willing to bid above the asking price, then you TRULY are a qualified prospect!

    • That’s some great perspective! Thanks for sharing!

  • rita

    I consider myself a 10, (not boosting at all) at least in the area of treating other peoples feelings with respect. My approach to situations is always “what if i was the one in their shoes” view? so that has served me well in being respectful to people because being mean hurts, none of us has a heart of stone. As always Tobi, awesome read. Thank you for doing great things with your talents

  • Serendipity

    I’ll probably be a 6.5/7.
    Fantastic piece, it convicted me deeply. Thank you for writing. I am not rude by any standards but I tend to be a lot more patient and tolerant of people I may have profiled as ‘likely’ than I am of those that are not.
    What that means is that I rarely give the ‘not likely’s’ an opportunity to know me and I do not show any interest in knowing them and sometimes in that mode, I treat them in subtle manners that this article opened my eyes to see were clearly not right. Whilst they may not go away feeling bitter or hurt, I know deep down that I could have treated them better, no matter how pesky they may have been. Love your site, thank you, thank you!

    • Wow. This is awesome. Its all about getting to the point where we can be honest with ourselves about how we can be better. I loved how you said “I treat them in subtle manners that this article opened my eyes to see were clearly not right. Whilst they may not go away feeling bitter or hurt, I know deep down that I could have treated them better, no matter how pesky they may have been.” It takes lot of maturity to say that and I thank you for that!

      • 100% Pogonophile

        Hello, an acquaintance sent me this post after I told her a colleague is interested me and I am not.

        I have experienced this in the past at varying lengths. Years ago, i even dated a guy based on pity hoping I would eventually like him and I couldn’t look myself in the mirror after saying that.

        In all honesty, I am quite civil to everyone. After realizing my colleagues feelings towards me were mutual after thinking it through, I weighed my words carefully whenever he calls me(trust me he was doing it regularly and each can go on for almost 20mins). However he got pesky by calling me several times within say 3mins if I missed his call, or late at night or even policing me around, I knew I couldn’t continue the charade anymore. I finally told him how I felt and apologized if I led him on in anyway but I’ll appreciate it if he can just see my as an acquaintance. I know that was a blow but I feel better speaking up.

        I have been situations where I was the one interested in a guy. But I dnt wait long enough to get mistreated as soon as I sense the feeling isnt mutual. I read meanings into cryptic responses and once I realize he doesn’t initiate conversations as often as I do, I cut my losses and starve the attraction. Cold turkey! No looking back. I’ll rather keep it moving.

        Lovely writeup. Keep it up

  • Lady

    I have a question. I reckon I’m an 8.5 or 9 when serious gentlemen approach me. But if the man in questions is “hollering” at me on the street, approaches in a disrespectul way i.e. “baby whats up you look fine” etc then in that situation I would be a 4. lol. What do you think about those situations- where guys try to chat you up for fun/holler at you on the street? How to respond? Because if you encourage them you are just setting yourself up for further harrassment. Would love your thoughts on this. Thank you

    • I LOOOOVVEEE this question!
      So here are a few things:
      -You have to be careful how you define “disrespectful”. Im not saying that anything goes, its just a cautionary note that it wont always be on a silver platter
      -Don’t be so focused on the location. In fact the more open it is, the bolder the man sometimes has to be in case the woman embarrasses him so give him “some” credit. Think about it…if you are out and about, where else will a total stranger, someone who is not in your circle, doesn’t know you , approach you? Lol So men coming up to you in the street is not the bad thing in of itself
      -Now…that said, a man SHOULD be respectful. If he is out there hollering and grabbing himself and sticking out his tongue, you don’t even have to acknowledge that. If he is yelling hey baby…hey mami…same thing…but be aware…a very decent man can call out “excuse me” and have the best intentions. Note that decent men wont always have the luxury of being in places where they can approach you on the side…all quietly and totally planned.
      So take a quick moment to assess the situation before you react.
      Hope this helps

      • Lady

        This is so so helpful. Thanks a million. I will try to be more of an 8/9 with guys on the street as well. I think by default I assume they are unserious or do it all the time – some guys are so confident it makes girls think “he just does this a lot” but I agree with you…take a moment to assess carefully before reacting.

        • Royalpriest

          This is my chance of saying thank you for enlightening our world – the world of women God bless you ma. I can say I’m 10. I used to be 0 before when I was teen but as soon as I got admission to varsity. My approach to life changed entirely. To cut my discussion short, the motivation behind my approach to guys or men generally, it is just because of my brothers. I have a very respectful father and 4 good looking and caring brothers and I’m their only sister, I can’t stand it if a lady misbehaves to any of them especially when they have to tell me about it. I changed because I want ladies around to respect them and I tell you it has been and still works them . I’m saying all the male figures I’ve come to first know ever in my life I adore them so much that I react unconsciously like that to everyman that comes way. So much that they tend to hover around me. Some call me names like mama guys and many like that. Yet I’m still a very strong person of good character eventhough I give them a shoulder to lean on when necessary. God has really helped this far…

      • disqus_6Ehjth661G

        Thanks Tobi! Gosh, in hindsight, I won’t take it personal next time. You are correct in saying “decent men do not always have the luxury of being in places (or the right place) before they can approach you. A light bulb just went off, not in a bad way, but that comment makes a lot of sense. I see things quite differently and my response have been altered.

  • David

    Frances, Love your question.

    l believe some men do that because Africa Ladies will always want to Strech men so that they are not Classified “cheap Girl“

  • Saray

    So what exactly is a good way to let a man know you aren’t interested in his advances, at church, for example? I’ve always struggled with this. I tend to speak rather bluntly in general, but I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, so I end up avoiding them or not being clear in enough in these types of situations.

    • Great Question Saray. Here is some perspective on that: which would you rather be? A lady that NO guy looks at or wants to talk to? or one that guys gravitate to? if your answer is the second, then to a large extent, it is a compliment that guys want to come and talk to you. Sure they may not always get it right and sure they may flat out be the kind of guy you want, but you cant still be decent about it. Give them a chance to be rude, before you get rude. treat them like you would like to be treated if you were the one that had to put yourself out there to him. Many guys can respect that.

  • Stephen

    Thank you Tobi for sharing. I have been teaching the principles you sharedin your article to as many of my single sisters as would care to listen. Did that again yesterday before I read your article. But your articles elucidates it in a way that is easy to understand and relate to. I have shared it with my friends. Thanks again Tobi and God bless.

  • ThinkMe

    Interesting article. There’s an excellent commercial running in my market right now for a dating service. A young-ish male is telling an attractive younger female (as she’s taking a selfie and texting her friends) that he “works in IT as a project manager”. She then disses him, and leaves the table and tells her friends he’s so uncool. Another woman pushes her out of the way, and tells her, “what do you know about men? You fold clothes for a living.”

    And that sums it up. The same reflexive, superficial attitudes are at work in the church as well. Except “coolness” (aka perceived value to someone else, and therefore a type of personal power) the “closer to God” a person is, the more “cool” they are. One had to hang out with the right clique, say the right things, never publicly say certain things, claim you want to become a pastor, or serve the poor, etc. etc.

    What a load of rubbish most of it was! But you risked being left out of the clique by other Christians who you thought were your friends and vetoed by Girl Council if you didn’t follow this approach.

    I finally met my wife, and sanity, when I gave up on Christian culture altogether, and decided not to “fit in”. I found that it is much more important to be yourself, follow the course God would have you follow, through your interests, passions, etc., and be prepared to speak your mind. To not veil things in nice language, but to be forthright about the good and bad you see, about your thoughts about things, or about your feelings about someone.

    Look, I wasn’t raised in the church, and went to a church where 80% of the people were. It was a culture shock. I had no clue. But I had a good sense of right and wrong, of ethics, and how to treat people well.

    My point behind this is not to condemn the church – my brothers and sisters – but to tell everyone to stop trying to fit in, and stop expecting everyone else to fit in.

    Give them a chance to let down their guard and be themselves, both one on one and in the group.

    Which in a different manner of speaking, is exactly what think this is what the author is trying to get at.

  • Nas,
    I love that question. You can and should always have an “attractive personality” not just for the sake of romantic relationships but because that’s who you want to be! So you don’t want to have that personality at work and then turn it off when you are in social gatherings. That makes it fake…like it’s not the real you. Now how do you manage “not leading a guy on?” you set boundaries, and you treat everyone the same way so that he sees that he is not getting special treatment that could be misconstrued and MORE IMPORTANTLY, SO THAT OF YOU GET UPSET OR GET FIRM OR GET SERIOUS ABOUT GETTING YOUR POINT ACCROSSS, HE/THEY WILL SEE A DRASTIC DIFFERENCE FROM THE NORMAL YOU. And that will drive home the point faster

  • SK

    Insightful and Timely! Thanks Tobi Atte. Keep on, Keep at it.

  • Joy


    I guess I had to look back i would have to say that I am about a 7, I have a tendency to “snap” at folk. So this is definitely an eye opener and I am working on it and my relationship with God.

    Thanks Tobi

  • Lynee

    I won’t say I’m the sweetest, but I TRULY try not to hurt anyone’s feelings. When I am approached, I take as compliment. As said in article I would feel like “what’s wrong with me?” if I’m not. So again I except as compliment & being a bus driver it is entertainment during my shift.

  • NguriJ

    immensely impressed! very helpful. To Yahwh be all glory… and to you Sir.. keep up with the excellent work!

  • duchess jj

    I should have read this several years back,maybe i would not be single today

    • Hello Duchess JJ, Its never too late. Its just a bit of adjustment in perspective. Dont beat yourself up about it. Be glad you know now and live with positive expectations for future!

  • wow. Thats really interesting Angela, i’m curious..what culture are you from? And yes…its likely that its not you. unfortunately, many men look at pursuing women as a numbers game and they think “if i approach enough women, i am bound to get one that says yes.” Stay strong , stay realistic and stay approachable. dont let the negative men who have approached you affect you to the point where you look unappraochable to the good guys

  • Hello Poppy,
    This is really powerful. Thank you so very much for sharing that. I am sorry that you are going through that and you are right, no one should be written off totally because of their outward appearance. It is important to know that this (men seeming to write women off based on physical appearance) is not a “male” problem…The truth is that BOTH men and women go through this….in different ways. I hear the same narrative from men who say (let me borrow and flip your words above) “I think I would make a really good husband, I’ve pursued God, and I know what direction he’s leading me in my life, but I’m not very rich/settled/financially stable/good looking etc so I think that’s stopping anyone from ever approaching me/being approached by me to find out those other qualities.”
    It is a human issue. But it is just a tendency not the absolute.
    Look poppy, I need you to never lose confidence in God and in yourself that you will find love. Ive never met you before but I just want to tell you that you must continue to live to the fullest of your positive attributes and capabilities. Continue to take care of your body…your mind…your spirit. Never get bitter about not being “approached”. I say that not because I don’t understand what you are going through but because I know that if you give in to it, that bitterness will THEN become another reason why you are unapproachable.You MUST remain lovable. Keep expanding your network. Keep reaching your goals and finally know this: Yes…while many men are visually stimulated at first, trust me…there are MANY MANY other qualities that men look for in a woman. I wish you all the best and lots of love. Pls feel free to reach out personally to me.

  • silva Asagba

    With guilt kicking in, I am a 5 to those who I feel are not prospects. And that’s because of no known way to say no. I have tried being nice and say no, then my niceness is misunderstood, so I started being straight up mean, I always feel terrible about it,and I have been having a conviction about that issue and pride in general, I will definitely allow the holyspirit to work in me, and i’ll purposely change, but how do I act neutral and my niceness is not taken for something else?

    • Hi there! So here are my thoughts. I think that for many ladies, there is a generally wrong impression that it has to be either of two extremes. Either you are too nice and he doenst get the hint, or you have to be mean so he can get it. The truth is that you can have a balance. The problem is that what many refer to as “nicely saying no” is HINTING NO, and hoping he gets it. You can communicate with a man in a tactful way and be crystal clear that you are not interested, and still be nice. So… that means…when a guy calls you and verbally and clearly expresses his interest to you, don’t just stop calling him and expect he gets the hint.
      Ladies have to remember that they too play by a double standard so it’s not that these men are stubborn or dumb for not getting the hint, its just that man women will “play hard to get” and penalize the man that cant stay in the pursuit so men try to stay in the pursuit to express the fact that they are serious. So its not totally a negative thing…women can just be hard to read sometimes. So…be clear, but be nice…and remember. HINTING is not COMMUNICATING

  • Tobi Mbaya

    Hmm this is so insightful. Unfortunately I have not treated the men that were interested in me with the right attitude or responses… that needs to change

  • Jessie

    I don’t have a number to report, because no one ever approaches me ! And I’m not exaggerating. No one. Maybe it’s a good thing, because I reckon it’d be awkward to have to turn someone down. Wouldn’t know, though.

    • Hi Jessie! Yes you are right…it could be a good thing and quite frankly, your value or attractiveness as a woman is not determined by how many guys approach you. :o) In fact, what you want is not for a lot of men to approach you, but that the RIGHT type of men approach you. So to make that happen, you must think about what matters to the type of men you want, see if those things align with YOUR personal values, and if they do, lead with those things in interactions with men. One last thing… you gotta be careful that you dont define being approached as an explicit request to date or an explicit flirtation. Men (especially good ones) may approach you by saying hello or smiling at you or something really simple. THEN they look for permission to continue….to further pursue. Hope this helps! God bless you!

      • Jessie

        Wow. I feel blessed and privileged that you took the time to respond ! And in such a thoughtful and personal way ! Thank you so much for your site and for your attentiveness to your readers. God bless.

  • Teresa Rincon

    “think about the last 10 guys that showed an interest in you…” I haven’t even had ONE guy show interest in me in the past 20 years. I’m 39 years old, and I’ve never had a boyfriend or even been on a date. I would love to see an article that addresses THAT problem.

  • Ijeoma

    I didn’t do well at all. thanks for the correction.