Problem: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from our clients, “If I just had more time, I’d be able to sell more.” In fact, time management and follow-up skills are frequently cited as major challenges sales managers tell us their salespeople face.
Yet we find that salespeople often sabotage themselves when it comes to management of their time. Salespeople are notorious for trying to keep a “prospect” alive when it’s obvious that the “deal” is dead. They continue to try to “resurrect the dead.”
Analysis: There are a number of reasons that salespeople attempt to keep the prospect alive, and three seem to stand out. First is their seeming unwillingness to take “no” for an answer. Salespeople often (mistakenly) believe that a “no” means failure on their part. After all, the old paradigm of selling was that the best salespeople were the ones that could make a sale even to the most resistant prospects.
Secondly, prospects won’t tell you no because they simply don’t think you want to hear it. So the easy thing for the prospect to say is, “Let me think it over.”
Finally, hope springs eternal. Salespeople, after all, tend to be quite optimistic and trusting. They don’t recognize a certain “no” when they hear it. The “no” I’m referring to, of course, is the ubiquitous “I need to think it over” that seems to be the prospect’s typical response when they aren’t buying. Salespeople buy this one hook, line, and sinker every time. Yet research shows that less than 20% of the “TIO’s” ever turn into business.
Solution: Qualify the prospect completely for pain, financial issues, and decision—or interest, time and money. If it’s still a “no” at that point, they’re not a prospect. Go find someone who has a real need for what you sell. Understand that the “think it over” is usually a slow “no” with a free torture treatment. Remove it as an option early on with your Meeting Agreement by saying something like this, “When we get to the end of our meeting today if you’re not totally comfortable with moving forward, it’s OK to tell me ‘no’.” Better to get the “no” early on, and stop wasting your time chasing the “think it overs.”