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The More You Persist the More Customers will Resist

Traditional sales people are enthusiastic adherents of the saint of lost causes. These followers have sales amnesia where they have forgotten to do the math that clearly shows dismal yields on chasing bad deals.

Some of the worst sins in sales are; over eagerness, aggressive friendliness, and misguided persistence. However, most sales people do not recognize this. Customers do not like to build relationships with someone who is not an equal. When customers become too much of a prize, equilibrium is lost, sales people potentially become the overly grateful supplicant.

It is not unusual for sales people to romanticize and sentimentalize about that one client, against all odds, they mercilessly pursued for five years and finally landed. And that is all good and well, and they should be proud of their accomplishment. But, the reality is that victory should not be set up as a standard or an example to blindly pursue all deals with the same vigor and passion of false hope. Too often it is.

Mainstream sales people are experts at rationalizing time wasted. So often it is plain old avoidance activity. The beauty of robotic follow-up on fantasy deals is you do not have time to do new business generation. You are so busy chasing bad deals you do not have time to do prospecting. A payoff that is very inviting to the amateur sales person who hates new business generation.

Turbo-charged persistent sales people are often engaging in fantasy instead of reality. They are usually just running from bad news instead of confronting it. Sales people's runaway optimism often shields them from facing reality and making tough and well informed business decisions. It is delayed "disgratification" at its finest hour.

Needy sales people do not realize they are placing bad bets and gambling away their time, resources, and energy on vague and unsubstantiated deals. "Every gambler knows that the secret to survival is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep, because every hand is a winner and every hand is a loser," cooed Kenny Rogers.

Cutting your losses is the most undervalued sales skill in the information economy, and flights of fancy (over persistence) is the most overrated. Modern technology has marginalized the original benefits of pure, unadulterated persistence; access and breaking down barriers. Today access is easily denied and vault like barriers are plentiful. Thru technology, customers control now 'if and when you get hold of them.

Persistence used to be the parlance of the survival of the fittest. Today it is the last gasp and desperation of the survival of the un-fittest. Excessive and poorly directed persistence wears on your soul and resolve. Sales people usually persist out of blind habit more than resolve. They just do not know any better. Anything short of sheer bulldog persistence would be admitting defeat. And persistent sales people can never be accused of loving to be right, and loving the good fight.

Persistence can be a harsh and stern teacher. When we try to control and think we have dominion over prospects, we will greatly decrease our chances to get to the truth, and we will end up spinning our wheels quite frequently. Overly persistent behavior often puts customers on the defensive, which causes them to be very passive aggressive. If you are going to be hyper persistent, you better have a super dynamic personality to make up for the negatives of being a pest. Most sales people cannot graciously pull this off.

Like a helicopter parent, sales people can hover way beyond their welcome. Doting sales people experience separation anxiety like modern parents. They need to know when to set free unqualified prospects. Sometimes the deal is over before it even started, and they did not have a prayer or chance in hell. They are not willing to write it off because they do not understand the laws of diminishing returns, and the basic fundamentals of investing in deals.

It is okay to be persistent, just know with whom, and under what circumstances you should be persistent or not. Or, be very persistent in doing your due diligence to know who will be worthy of a long campaign. You always need to know where to draw the line. "A way that successful sales people play against type is always be leaving. How do most sales people appear, they always look like they are staying indefinitely. They look like furniture—they are not likely to leave. Those who are most persistent may even seem like a pesky pitbull clamped on the customer's ankle. The more the customer tries to shake it off, the tighter those little jaws clampdown," says Jeff Thull. And to add insult to injury, the more sales people persist doggedly, the more customers doggedly resist them and evade them.

Burning from dead-end deals to dead-end deals is exhausting and especially demoralizing when you tally up the wasted energy and resources that were wasted through the folly of false hope that could have been directed elsewhere for a better return on investment. Sales people are sometimes like Tolstoy's fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, begging for pennies unaware his future was right underneath.

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