On my way home from a city that shall remain nameless, I drove through the airport looking for access to the gas station from whose cool, subterranean tanks I needed fuel. I was feeling lucky. No traffic in front of me. Still time to fill the tank and make the plane.  Down the approach to the terminals, up the ramp to the "departures" level, left turn at the top of the ramp.  Whoops.

There I found two orange barricades, limiting traffic to one lane, behind which stood a Smokey-hatted State Police officer who  precisely motioned me to pull over and stop. He approached the car. I opened my window. “Good afternoon,” he said.  “Good afternoon,” I replied.

“Do you know the speed limit here?”  he inquired.  “No… I don’t,” I replied. [This was true.]

“15 miles per hour. It starts at the bottom of that ramp you just came up.”  I shook my head. “I never saw the signs.”  [This was true, too. I was looking around to locate signs for the gas station or airport exit. I never saw the ramp speed limit signs.]

“So I gathered,” he said. “I’ll bet you’re in a hurry to get some place.”

“Yes,” I replied. “I am.”

“Well I’d hate to slow you down, so please pay attention to ALL the signs as you drive through the airport.”   And then he wished me a good afternoon and motioned me to proceed.

When I related this story to a friend, she said, “Well, first, it’s pretty hard to pay attention to ALL the signs when you’re looking around trying to find something.”

True enough… and how many times have we launched ourselves into prospects or clients trying to find something specific -a specific call objective, a specific clue to a need – only to miss other opportunities or suffer abruptly stops because we  didn’t see or didn’t pay attention to warning signs by the roadside.

As an experienced traveler, I should have obtained gas station directions before I reached the airport, checked for changes in speed limits as I approached the terminal because I know they tend to be 10 mph to 15 mph, and adjusted my speed.  But, oh, no, I was too busy looking for a gas station sign to notice the multiple speed limit signs. Whoops.

So, here are ten “slow down or proceed at your own peril” speed limit signs to watch for as we approach client or prospect “departure levels:”

1.      No agreement about needs or objectives among decision makers or influencers.

2.      No business case for solution.

3.      Insufficient process for evaluating options and alternatives.

4.      Ignorance of or low commitment to address “side issues” that could derail implementation.

5.      Unclear implementation date or process.

6.      Undefined decision process.

7.      Fuzziness about the budget comes from and who controls it.

8.      Insufficient identification of decision influencers or people who can say “No” but not “Yes.”

9.      Not clear who will make the decision to buy and implement, or how they’ll be made.

10.  No clear sense of who has the authority and the resources to implement.

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