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Never Operate on a Patient on the Day of Their Death

There is not a skill set used more to substitute sound strategic selling than the art of over-persistence. Conventional persistence is usually an overcompensation for a poor sales process lacking structure and discipline. This is manifested every day by sales people, who chase phantom deals through sheer will and determination, tortured logic, absurdist resolve and a little spit and vinegar for color.

Mainstream sales people often follow their heart and passion to an extreme and end up being professional washouts from exhausted effort on lost causes, resulting in them being passionately and strategically irrelevant. Survival of the fittest (most persistent) is no longer a sound strategy in the age of inaccessible personal communication, and corporate vaults of voice mail, email, caller ID and electronic secretaries.

Over-persistent syndrome (dead man walking) causes an emotional roller coaster where sales people feel out of control and do not feel they have a firm grip on how to predictably control their destiny. Their scarcity mentality causes them to chase everything to its natural negative conclusion because they have very weak pipelines. Even after being excommunicated and rejected, they put on a brave face and feebly persist further. They believe that idleness is the work of the devil. They believe in old fairy-tales that effort equals results. There is very little logic or economies of scale in their thinking.

Overly persistent sales people are generally held up high in most companies because they demonstrate an insatiable industry and effort where their inefficiency is not brought into question. Their constant motion is seen as a virtue. Woe to the savvy sales manager who challenges their strategy. Their position would be viewed as comparable to climate change deniers. The problem is compounded by the trick of memory that allows sales people to justify untold effort on lost causes because a time in thpe not so distant past their herculean effort was rewarded. And it was glorious.

Traditional sales people do not stop for a moment to reflect on the causes and effects of their behavior; inefficiency, desperate behavior, lack of trust and emotional exhaustion that will eventually catch up with them. The fact is these traditional sales people are fishing without bait. It is often a fool's errand. They are in trouble before they start because they have not properly qualified the opportunities that they are working on.

"Chasing all the right ones and throwing out the wrong ones is crucial to success," says Malcolm McDonald. Instead of being like a helicopter parent hovering obnoxiously over anything that breathes, be very discriminating as to who you will engage and who you will not, and under what circumstances. Also curb your enthusiasm for certainty. Nothing is certain. However, if you are not getting reciprocal return on your effort, you need to be willing to make tough business decisions; cut bait and run, or hang in there.

Have a professional and nurturing posture of take it or leave it, the balls in your court, easy come easy go, or no deal can break me or make me. Customers do not like to deal with sales people who are on a death march, or who are stalwart adherents of the panting dog school of selling. If you are going to use persistence as a hallmark of your sales strategy, you better have an indispensable offering, or an incredibly charming personality to overcompensate for being a pest. Few sales people can pull this off.

"Sometimes the art of letting go (stop calling) is greater than the the art of defending or hanging on," says Eckhart Tolle. Always be willing to offer up your professional ultimatum of you walking. It can be very liberating for both parties, especially when you are chasing cold cases. If customers are not responding, you need to proactively force the issue and make it easy for them to agree that they are no longer interested, and you are no longer a priority for them.

"I don't try to jump over seven-foot bars: I look for one-foot bars that I can easily step over," says Warren Buffett. Pursue customers who want to be followed up on, and who have a compelling reason to take action. No more flights of fancy chasing big black holes. No more being blind-sided by your own agenda or self-interest. No more lolling yourself into a false sense of security because you love being action oriented and being in perpetual motion. No more deep strategic reserves of denial. No more victory by default. No more operating on patients on the day of their deaths. No more nothing ventured nothing gained behavior.

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