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Losing a Deal May Be Hell, but Losing it Quickly is Heavenly

It is not enough to win in selling. You also have to learn to quit while you are ahead and cut your losses on lost causes. Too many sales people are bad losers. They do not know how to win at losing. They overly persist on phantom deals that Moses could not sell.

Always remember losing is an integral part of winning. Therefore, you have to know how to manage losing and how to minimize the time you spend losing. One of the biggest areas of losing that needs to be reined in is the lost art of persistence (stalking).

Too many traditional sales people blindly chase deals that were DOA from the onset. With their scarcity mentality they hold on tightly to the idea that a longshot is better than a no shot. They are strong adherents to the Woody Allen tenet of success; "90% of success is simply showing up." And boy do they show up. Again, again and again. And they just do not leave. That is not totally true. They eventually do leave, or are told to leave. They leave the profession of selling because of all the wasted time they spent stalking deals that were never meant to be. If someone had told them early on in their career to rechannel their tenacity, persistence and dogged determination in the pursuit of finding the customer's most pressing problems and reasons for change they might have stayed around.

Parkinson's law states that, "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion." Too often overly persistent sales people are very inefficient and nonproductive and are simply expanding their workday. So much of their behavoir and action is avoidance behavoir driven by the fear of replacement selling; replacing a poor prospect for a new good prospect. Their negative activity reminds me of one who is stuck in hell and fighting to stay there. They simply do not realize as Tony Iannarino said, "There are no refunds on time poorly spent."

In sales justice delayed is justice denied. Too many conventional sales people are chasing indecisive and unqualified prospects and often are never getting closure. As Rick Page says, "Hope is not a good sales strategy." I would add also holding on to prospects like the Grim Reaper will not yield you many positive results.

Over persistence is often driven by the insecurity of powerlessness. It takes a positive winning attitude and chops to confidently walk away from a lost cause that is more trouble than it is worth, regardless of how good it looks on paper. Most orthodox sales people are heavily biased towards action versus inaction. This is a leading contributor to over persistent follow-up. "Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim," said George Santayana. Most sales people have lost their vision of selling with efficiency, dignity and high probability.

Business relationships are mutual, they flourish in reciprocity. When it is not mutual and is heavily pursued to a level of stalking it is just obsession and projection. It is sales narcissism at its finest hour.

The idea of exceptionalism probably plays a role in a fair amount of foolhardy persistence. Millennials raised to feel special think too often that if they just give it the old college try, with encouragement from mom, they will win the account. They put too much faith in hope and not enough faith in the reality of the customer's situation. Selling this way can be a pie eating contest where first prize is more pie.

Overly persistent behavior is so popular in sales because it seems so virtuous. However, there is no virtue in beating a dead horse to death. Ultimately, the unending chasing and groveling starts to wear on ones's soul. You cannot continue to sell as if you have an unlimited capacity to take rejection, to lose your dignity, and to always be spinning your wheels. Eventually you will break.

No more velcro man selling; sticking to prospects and never letting go, and at the same time pushing them away. When traditional sales people do post-business loss reviews they generally are filled with many conspiracy theories as to why they did not get the business. In many cases the one they glaringly overlooked is the fact that they probably should not have been in that deal in the first place, and they should have walked away to sell another day. The reality is their time would have been better served on the golf course or checking their Facebook account.

Losing an important deal may be hell, but losing it quickly and early on is heavenly. Stop hauling your poor judgment from account to account chasing dead deals. It seems so minor wasting time on one deal. But once you have the notion that you need to never quit it starts adding up exponentially when you spread it evenly around your whole territory, or book of business.

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