Date: 25/07/2017 | By: Nigel Dunand

Sales quick-tip: Stop rescuing your prospects

Here’s a sales tip for you… When a prospect calls you with an urgent request, what should you do? BizSmart Select Member Nigel Dunand of Sandler Training demonstrates why it’s not always in your interests to agree to help.

Our gut reaction to our prospects’ or customers’ plea for help can result in wasted time and frustration for both parties. If you’ve ever wasted time on unpaid consultancy, quoting and hoping, or you’ve done a favour that backfired, then this will help you to understand the root cause and avoid it next time.

You can read more below, or click here to access Nigel’s webinar on this topic.
Nigel Dunand

The other day I noticed my wife running around the house, huffing and puffing and cursing under her breath.

What’s the matter? – “I can’t find my car keys” she laments. 

This is my opportunity to be a great husband, so naturally, I ask if I can help.

“Thank you”, she responds, and I’m duly rewarded with a grateful smile from an appreciative wife.

Unfortunately, after a few minutes of fruitless search, and worried about how long this will go on for, I make the mistake of thoughtlessly asking “Where did you last have them?”

“Nigel, if I knew that, I wouldn’t have asked you!”

And of course, I realise I’ve gone from hero to zero.

A victim of what is known as the Karpman Drama Triangle.

“I was only trying to help” is the indignant, sometimes self-righteous, sometimes angry, and always frustrated, cry of the erstwhile rescuer.

Has anything like this happened to you in your sales role? For example, it’s Friday afternoon, and the phone rings: “Nigel, remember that project we discussed a couple of months ago? Well, it’s back on. I have an urgent meeting with the board on Monday. Can you help me out, and send me over an updated proposal, please?”

After working half the weekend to get it out on time, Nigel calls the prospect Monday afternoon. He leaves a message. And again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Conscientiously following up in case any further information is required by the board.

Friday, the prospect answers brusquely “Nigel, I got your messages. I’m busy right now. I’ll call you back when I’m ready.”

Arrgh! “I was only trying to help!” is what the hapless Nigel wants to say.

It’s the sales version of Karpman’s triangle. The dreaded “Buyer/seller dance.”


Quick Sales Tip: Stay out of the Karpman Drama triangle!


Responding in any of the three roles, Victim, Persecutor or Rescuer can result in an unintended outcome. They stem from the unhelpful Critical Parent, Little Professor, or Adapted Child ego states.

The antidote is TRUTH! Try being vulnerable, caring and assertive, to set boundaries and avoid drama.

It might sound like this…with a nurturing tonality, emotionally detached from the outcome, and not afraid to hear NO:

“Not sure I can help” (vulnerable).

“Sounds like this project might be important” (caring).

“Is it important enough to you that you invite me to meet the board, and we work on this together?” (assertive)

Sandler Rule: 70% of your communication is from your Nurturing Parent ego state. 30% from your Adult ego state.

Are you communicating effectively in your sales interactions? If not, listen to Nigel’s webinar here to find out how you can improve your interactions.

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