Stop Watering Dead Plants

There is absolutely no doubt that persistence is a key element for sales success. But where does persistence stop and being a pest begin, and when is being persistent just plain dumb?

This is not a problem for most salespeople because, as a general rule, they give up far too soon in the selling process. If they can’t get the sale on the first two or three calls, they move along to their next golden opportunity. They give up on the bird they are holding in their hand and go looking for the two that are supposed to be in the bush.

Statistics show that most people don’t make their final buying decision until after the fifth or sixth contact with the salesperson. This is one of the reasons that outbound telemarketing or one-shot direct mail campaigns are so unsuccessful.

The telemarketer expects you to make a decision during that initial call, something only the most impetuous person will do (and then later regret having done so and call to cancel the order).

The successful direct mail campaigns are the ones that hit you several times with their material. After you’ve seen the thing a number of times you are more disposed to responding. Either that or you become really annoyed about receiving junk mail.

So what do I mean by “stop watering dead plants”? While being persistent is good, doggedly pursuing a non-prospect is simply a waste of time.

Unfortunately, a lot of salespeople"”the poor ones"”would rather spend time with a bad (or non) prospect than no prospect, trying to nurture a non-sale. They’re watering a dead plant. Why do they do this?

Sometimes the person you’re constantly calling on is likeable and likes you so it becomes sort of a social or, what I call, a comfort call.

Sometimes the prospect is just jerking you around and stringing you along.

Maybe you’re dealing with an amiable personality. You know the ones. These are the folks who like to be liked and won’t tell you the truth about the sales situation because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. It’s ironic that they’d rather waste your time than hurt your feelings!

It could be that you’re dealing with a PWOT"”a Potential Waste Of Time"”or a DWOT (the D stands for Definite!). These are the people who have absolutely no intention of buying and they also have no intention of letting you in on that fact.

We could probably avoid or minimize all these situations if we were a bit more careful in our qualifying process and made sure we were dealing with a real prospect and not a PWOT.

Some of you seasoned salespeople may remember the old saying, “If you want to make a sale, you have to talk to the MAN” where the M stands for the person with the Money, the A stands for the person with the Authority to make a purchasing decision, and the N stands for the person with a Need. It’s just great when all three factors reside within one individual; otherwise you have to ensure that two or three people are sold before the sale is made.

If you take the time to properly qualify the opportunity and make sure that you’re dealing with the MAN, you have a better chance of making the sale and not just watering a dead plant.

Before someone takes offence at the use of the MAN acronym, we all know that if you really want to qualify someone you have to talk to the WOMAN. In fact though, if you really, really want to qualify someone you have to talk to the COWMAN. And anyone who’s been through our ProSell sales training workshop knows what that stands for.

I’m absolutely stunned (there are a number of people who feel this is my natural state) at the number of salespeople who leap from the Approach step of the selling process into their sales presentation, or Prove part of the sale, without spending near enough time trying to determine if they are dealing with a real prospect. For these people, telling is selling and if they can just tell their story, prospects will open their wallets and purses to them. Dreamers!

These salespeople never seem to learn from their non-sales. Instead of trying to figure out what went wrong, they just pass it off by saying the prospect wasn’t ready to buy or my price was too high, or whatever. In actual fact, they probably didn’t have a real sales opportunity going in the first place. What a waste of time.

Then there are the salespeople at the other end of the scale"”those that quit too soon. They’re onto a good opportunity but are too impatient to let it run its natural course. Once you’ve determined you’re onto a valid sales opportunity, you have to stay with it until the prospect buys or dies. Don’t give up too soon. Just make sure you’re watering a live plant.

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