June 4, 2012

Salespeople Fail to Develop New Business When They Are Late to the Party

In my last post, I shared that waiting is one of the all-to-common reasons salespeople fail to develop new business. The passive, reactive  salesperson who is always waiting for new materials, better instructions or warm prospects tends not to deliver the numbers.

Being late to the party may be fashionable on the social scene, but it can be deadly in sales.

One of the dangerous consequences of waiting is that when an opportunity arises at one of our target accounts, we are often late to the party and last in line. I’m not a fan of over-qualifying prospects. As a contrarian on this point, I regularly take heat from other sales writers and occasionally receive awkward looks from clients when sharing my perspective. Others argue that a well-qualified, educated and ready buyer is exactly what we want. I couldn’t disagree more.

When we are not proactively working a strategic, finite, focused list of target accounts, we can find ourselves not only late, but last to an opportunity. In that case, we have almost no chance of leading the prospect. They are likely already researching, shopping and forming initial opinions. We end up selling uphill, responding to an opportunity that our more proactive competitor created. Not only are we  joining an already in-progress game, but often the deck is stacked against us. In the worst of all scenarios, we find ourselves responding to Request for Proposal (RFP) that our competitor helped the prospect write. Not fun at all.

Stop waiting. Stop over-qualifying. Work your target accounts. They are on your list for a reason. Until you can prove that you’re wasting an incredible amount of time and money meeting with unqualified prospects, I’m sticking with my theory. And if too many of your prospect meetings are a waste, then I’d argue that it is highly likely the problem is poor strategic thinking that went into creating your list, not that you are being too proactive — or too early to the party!  But that’s a topic for another day.

Show me one salesperson that is failing from wasting time meeting with too many unqualified prospects, and I will show you 1000 salespeople failing from lack of activity, particularly lack of face-to-face meetings with strategically selected target prospects.