Thou Shalt Not Operate (Sell) on a Patient (Client) on the Day of Their Death
Most sales inefficiency is related to trying to put square pegs into round holes. Sales people do not do their due diligence to spend time up front exploring if they are making a good match or not with prospects. Many mainstream sales people trespass and violate their customer's space by assuming a lot and then doing stalker like, hyper follow-up.
Sales people will continue to fight losing causes until they do the proper math and conclude that they have very little to gain by chasing phantom deals. They need to have a mental expiration date on deals, or draw a line in the sand so they know when to cease and desist their efforts.
"Sales people are too often persistent in their follow-up because they have a need to be in control and know what is happening," says Bill Brooks. They are overly persistent and needy because they cannot stand uncertainty. Their ego thrives on being in control and having hyperactivity which represents the dominant lifeline for overly persistent behavior.
Sales people hate breaking up because they see it as a failure, which they see as having to start over again by prospecting. They do not see it as a new beginning. Avoidance behavior is another lifeline for persistence. The only failure in sales is long drawn out sales cycles that result in dead deals.
Most orthodox sales people do not leave sales calls any wiser, more informed, or clearer as to what the customer is going to do, and what they are expected to do. Customers out of boredom give them dubious positive signals, and to make up for their confusion sales people put their follow-through into overdrive. At the end of a typical sales call all they have in their possession is a business card with a telephone number and an email address to assault. Or, more accurately, a voice mail box and an email inbox to waste their time on.
To better manage your follow-up make it easy for customers to be the bearer of bad news. Remind customers you are compensated in two ways. One is by being rewarded the deal, the other is the courtesy of getting bad news early. Remember, bad news early is good news. If customers are resistant to giving you bad news, then you need to be the bearer of good news for them: you are willing to have an honorable discharge and walk away from the deal to fight another day if it is not in both party's best interest.
Run-of-the-mill sales people resist the path of honorable discharge because they firmly believe that idleness is the work of the devil, and that there is no rest for the wicked. So they are always in constant forward motion even when it makes no sense at all. Do not be afraid to have a "come to Jesus talk," or a "truth and reconciliation" discussion with your customers about their true intentions.
I read in a novel recently about a surgeon who turned to his son, a fellow surgeon who was struggling as to whether to operate on a patient who had a very low chance of survival, and he gave him very wise advice; thou shault not operate on a patient on the day of their death. Sales people are doing this equivalent when they are beating a dead horse to death by chasing dead deals. No more death marches!
Without a well-thought-out, discipline sales strategy, customers on a whim will capriciously dictate terms of follow-up, or worse yet leave it to over eager sales people as to what to do. Sales organizations need a hard accounting system to really see where their efforts are paying off, and where they are falling short so sales people do not spend so much of their time running around circles wasting their time.