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Great Brands Do Not Chase Customers, Customers Chase Great Brands

Overly persistent sales people make a career and live by the old saying-A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But they often do not have a bird in the hand, and worse yet they do not have the sales pipeline of two in the bush to fall back on when they finally throw that dead bird (dead deal) away.

Conventional, persistent sales people often live with sales pipeline angioplasty, clogged from dead deals delays. Or dying quickly on the vine. To prevent this they should be highly persistent and motivated on a macro level to do the missionary work in tracking down high probable deals, and on a micro level be professionally persistent to find actionable problems. If you do not have a reasonable chance of winning, you should think long and hard as to whether you should get out of the race.

I see too much emphasis out in the field on desperate heroics to win deals (everyone wants to win one for the Gipper), instead of practical measures to simply assess compatibility, and to find out whether change is realistically in the cards. No pragmatic and rational being, who is not emotionally and subjectively vested in a prospect, would pursue piss poor opportunities with little more than hope and a prayer. Unfortunately, to quit represents too much personal failure for most traditional sales people.

Walking away does not mean giving up. Often it means quitting on one opportunity only to replace it with a new one. "Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over," said F. Scott Fitzgerald.

No more in the cloud sales strategies; you know the business is out there somewhere, so you aimlessly push random buttons to retrieve it from the storage cloud. What is frustrating for mainline sales people is business is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. As Lee Iacoca said, "We can no longer continue to work hard at the wrong things."

In one of the early Seinfeld episodes Elaine is thanking a job interviewer, and they respond that they will surely be getting back to her next week with their decision, and Elaine out of the blue blurts out, "I really have no chance do I?" And the interviewer without missing a beat confidently tells her absolutely not. This same scenario plays out everyday in the field with sales people unwilling to face the music, and preferring false hope over a dose of reality.

My prospects are often shocked when I politely decline their offer of further follow up with their tease you have nothing to lose. Oh contraries Pierre. It is a huge cumulative waste of time, and an emotional drain to chase essentially lost causes. Irrationally persistent sales people remind me of ailing banks in Europe who keep on delaying the day of reckoning by getting cash infusions. Today sales people need to know when to quit while they are ahead, and to be able to swiftly write off bad debt (dead deals).

I think too often sales people resist reality checks because all their wasted persistence does not seem like rejection. The problem is exacerbated in this day and age where sales people often do not get the priviledge of being rejected. They are just faced with a huge deep void of non-decision. I contend outright rejection is not a problem in the Digital Era, because everyday legions of sales people are going about their day to day activity without nearly a hint that they are beating a dead horse to death. No one has given them the equivalent of the unceremonious form letter, or a Dear John letter. A lot of mainstream sales people live on the false hope of a photo finish. But, too often they not only do not get a victory lap, but get a no show.

Gary Friedman of Restoration Hardware once said, "Great brands do not chase customers. Customers chase great brands." I have never met a top performing sales person who chased customers with unflagging persistence. It does not serve your personal brand to be needy. It is a major turn off for most people–remember dating! So no more mission impossible selling.

The average sales person probably makes anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000 a year I am guessing. Roughly 80 percent of their time is spent on lost causes. So their companies are technically paying a king's ransom to subsidize their bad choices. Everyone should be acutely aware that time is money for the customer and the sales person. When you waste your time you also waste your customer's time. Eventually, customers will pay you back, usually with non-communication and non-cooperation

Miracle workers end up selling a lot in anynominity. It is a very lonely job of irrelevancy, unreciprocated communication, non-communication and persistent frustration, resulting in higher costs of sales, lower margins and high employee turn-over.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com