You will read articles from experts who say they've never begged for a meeting, or that they were never led to believe they would land a big account. That's just not true.

Every day since I started my company 17 years ago, I've faced challenges and overcome objections, and even to this day my biggest frustration is when I go on meetings and hear:

"I'll keep you in mind."

I can't tell you how many times I've left a potential client meeting and heard that. Mostly during my first seven or eight years in sales. The difference is now I know how to navigate it. I don't know if I got smarter, more aware, or simply got sick of people never getting called on their BS.

Some people say they will keep you in mind, and they mean it. Most say it as a default way of meaning a few things:

  1. "I'm too scared to tell you there were things you said I didn't agree with."
  2. "I really don't have the power to use your service or buy your product."
  3. "I wasn't really paying attention and won't remember you anyways."

The overwhelming majority of people walk out of a 40 minute meeting getting a smile, a handshake and a "great to meet you, I will definitely keep you in mind," and think they had a great meeting.

They didn't. There will be times that business closes, but many times you just got beaten like a "code red" and you didn't even know it.

There is a certain level of diplomacy and politeness needed, but you have to ask the following questions if you get the "I'll keep you in mind."

1. "Are you currently working with what I offer?"

Oftentimes you have various service offerings, but they view you as specializing in just one of them. Asking this question will shed some light for what bucket they are putting you in.

2. "When you say keep me in mind, is there a project you have in mind?"

This will tell you if they are just brushing you off or if they may have something coming down the pipeline.

3. "Obviously we haven't worked together yet, but how do you view us versus other companies you have met?"

This will you show you if they are shopping for something specifically or if they are killing time (theirs and yours!)

It's not easy to overcome objections. It's not easy when you think a meeting went well to ask another question and potentially call BS on someone. But, if you think someone's giving you the go-around, call them on it. Push back.

What makes salespeople great is the sniff test. Can they smell when someone is shoveling manure their way? If you will keep these thoughts in mind, you're on your way to being great.

Published on: Jan 28, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.