The Case Against Leaving No Prospect Behind
With just a cursory review and assessment, far too few prospects are deleted from sales pipelines. The "little engine that could" is every conventional sales person's dream.
Because today customers are in control of if and when you get hold of them, the sales strategy of sheer, raw persistence has been severely compromised and marginalized. Persistence can be a virtue or a sin. Mostly it is a sin for mainstream sales people.
"Sales people confuse vibration (busy work) with forward motion," says David Nour. You need to be always asking yourself am I getting equal reciprocation and yield for my effort with customers in my activity. Professional sales people are internally motivated by a belief and attitude that their time is very precious and it will be allocated accordingly. Mainstream sales people are motivated by activities and the most popular activity in their toolbox is unjustifiable, persistent follow-up.
Their futile fire drills are like shouting into a void where they get no resolution from customers. The more customers resist, the more conventional sales people persist. Traditional sales people are masters of deferral. They fear and will do anything to postpone the inevitable day of reckoning. They are extremely non-pragmatic and are hopeless, sentimental romantics. Breaking up is so hard to do for them.
Persistence is the most overrated sales skill in the information economy with the willingness to walk being the most underrated. Persistence is a sales strategy that has been taken to an extreme with too many sales people. If you are going to be persistent, persist to find the truth of the customer's problems and intentions.
"Sales people are losing a lot of deals because they never ever had a chance to win because there was never an opportunity to begin with. Or it was not worth winning," says David James. Self-deception is truly the enemy of sales efficiency. Sales people are victims of their own runaway optimism. They are true masters of inverting the truth.
Not only do we have rampant grade inflation today in our society, we also have rampant customer inflation. This false hope causes sales people to throw good money after bad. They say that youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope. I think the same can easily be said of overly persistent sales people.
I was reading a book recently by Roxana Robinson called Sweetwater and I was fascinated by a passage that relates to sales, "He must eat once a week and a bear who cannot hunt will quickly die. The more risks he takes, the more energy he expends, and the more energy he sustains, the sooner he will die." Sales people are expiring every day because of bad bets and risks. They do not know how and when to cut their losses and maintain their energy and passion.
What drives compulsive persistence is the idea that there is little to lose. Lost sales are very invisible and yet they represent a huge expense. Most sales people do not know how painful it is. How one plays their bad hand is very important. Just like in poker, you have to learn to cut your losses. The reason why sales people chase bad deals is due to fear and inaccurate information. Unfortunately, chasing rarely rectifies this. Pulling the plug on bad deals will buy you more sometimes than winning a deal.
The goal behind conventional persistence is to leave no stones unturned, and to demonstrate your undying commitment to your future customer. What a quaint and out of touch belief. Sales people are so determined in their quest that what they work so hard to avoid (irrelevancy), they do the opposite; they turn customers off. The more you persist unjustifiably, the more you unlevel the fragile balance of equality in a sales call. And no one, including customers, llikes dealing with an unequal. Never forget neediness is a foul smelling cologne.
Unguarded perseverance leads sales people so emotionally spent. It wears at their soul and it makes them feel isolated and disenfranchised. This collateral damage ultimately affects their will to continue making sales calls. Hope does not always spring eternal in the peddler's heart.