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No More Happy Ears Under Happy Gas

Your customers are ultimately defined more by what they do, than by what they say. Words are the first step to deeds. Common sense fails us when we drag ourselves thru the mud with hyper follow-up with prospects who string us along, lead us down the primrose path, and make us chase our tails on opportunities that are highly improbable, because we were too focused on their words, not on their action and behavior.

Too often we think that more is the answer when it comes to persistent follow-up. But less works better in so many areas. Less chasing and less groveling. Where "more" really works out well for both parties is our pursuit of reality and the customer's truth.

Spend less time chasing, and more time finding out if customers really have a compelling reason to buy or change. I cannot tell you how many well educated sales people, who are well spoken and bright, who will continue to pursue me as a prospect when I have made it abundantly clear to them that I have zero interest. They obviously are more attuned to their truth than my truth, or they believe too much in their ability to make believers out of nonbelievers. I call them sales revisionists. They keep on coming back and going after prospects who are not even in play.

Overly persistent sales people often quietly die a thousand deaths, it is so subtle that they do not see it. There is an underlying frustration in them that never comes to the surface, and therefore they never make the necessary corrections. They rarely recognize that when you walk away from business opportunities that are not a good fit it just opens up all new opportunities and new doors.

Defeatism hangs over mainstream sales people's shoulders too much. It towers over common sense. Sales people too often are afraid to admit temporary defeat and move on. This results in them spending too much time with the wrong opportunities, not enough time with the right opportunities, applying undue pressure, doing a lot of senseless follow-up, and overall being a pest.

More so than ever, over persistence has the ability to cause more harm than good. It has a lot to do with technology and customer's ability to control if and when you ever get hold of them. It has to do with personal space that people value more than ever in a world where everything and everyone is screaming for their attention.

"Being willing to walk away from a deal will give you much better deals. This may be obvious to some, but not so obvious to sales people who cannot take no for an answer. Most buyers see an abundance of sales people. They have no difficulty in walking away from any one of them, because there will always be plenty more. They feel they can afford to be selective, and this reveals confidence. Many sellers see a scarcity of buyers. They act as if they have to pounce on every opportunity or sale, even when the chances are slim. They feel they cannot afford to be selective, and this reveals desperation," said Carl Ingalls. Over persistent behavior wreaks of desperation, and desperation is a foul smelling cologne. When you need a customer more than they need you, is when you lose perspective, objectivity, credibility and respect.

I see too often chemically imbalanced sales people under happy gas with selective hearing, who have a severe case of happy ears. Meaning all they hear is potential "yeses" and they waste so much time chasing people Moses could not sell.

The squeaky wheel gets the most attention sales strategy does not work in the information economy. The problem is the squeaky wheel is very annoying and is very easy to screen and evade due to technology. This badge of honor that so many mainstream sales people used to wear with such pride rarely receives much recognition from customers in today's environment.

No more persistent, energizer bunny–chasing customers to and from. It is just not worth extending the calories. It is a waste of emotional capital. Any shrewd analysis of return on investment in energy will tell you that in most cases persistently following up with someone who is not reciprocating is a poor ROI.

So stop the stalking, loitering and overstaying your welcome. You have got to have more trust. Trust is all about letting go of the need to know all. More often than not if you went with your gut you would not follow up with prospects who continually lead you astray.

Persistence should be re-channeled to being persistent to find the truth, find reality, find customer's problems. That is the best use of it. Sales people should borrow from the principles of lean manufacturing and apply it to selling. Lean selling is achieving the shortest possible cycle by eliminating waste and reducing incidental human effort.

"Lose, lose early. Lose often. Lose with a smile. For it is how you lose that counts. And you will loose. Eventually you'll lose everything. Everybody does." said Dale Carnegie. The best sales people lose 70% of the time. Get good at recognizing losing causes and minimize them. Remember, losing is an integral part of winning. Just try to do it early on with minimal expenditure of time and resources.

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