When things aren’t going well, salespeople often give in to a quick and easy sale to get through a dry spell.
It’s easy to fall under the spell of low-hanging fruit. It has its rewards, after all—it boosts dented egos and makes salespeople feel busy and productive.
But those who excel in sales know that going after low-hanging fruit prevents them from raising their sights, caps their capabilities and stops them from embracing challenges—which means they don’t develop skills that add value to their careers and enhance their confidence.
Picking up the easy sale earns salespeople a reputation they deserve, and not as members of the A-team. It doesn’t prepare them for tougher times or more demanding opportunities. Dependent on transactional interactions, these salespeople become known as what they are—order-takers—because:
- They never have enough leads. Often, they complain that the good leads go to other salespeople, particularly the sales manager’s “favorites.”
- They don’t cultivate prospects. They just want to sell and view staying in touch with prospects as a waste of time.
- They change jobs frequently. They’ll use excuses such as “That wasn’t a good fit,” “The manager was always looking over my shoulder” or “They didn’t know what they were doing.”
Besides, just because there’s low-hanging fruit today doesn’t mean it will be plentiful tomorrow—it’s a mistake to act as if it there’s an endless supply. Breaking dependence on a low-hanging fruit habit isn’t easy, but answering these three questions may help:
1) Which prospects can help you reach your sales objectives? Look at your prospects and consider their characteristics to decide whether they are actually a good fit for you. Be selfish and disciplined. You only have so much time, so spend it where it counts. Pass up the easy opportunities or hand them off to a colleague. Don’t let yourself be seduced by the lure of the easy sale.
2) Why should they do business with you? If identifying the appropriate prospects isn’t good enough, this is another critical question. A prospect may be a perfect match for you, but that won’t get you to the goal. Gut instinct doesn’t count, and neither will a referral or even a personal introduction. You must know enough about them so you can stake your life on why it’s in their best interest to do business with you. Don’t even think about asking for an appointment until you know them as well as they know themselves.
3) What’s your plan to woo them? After getting information on a prospect, most salespeople go for the appointment. Overly eager, they stumble. Often, they think they’re ready when they’re not—so they blow it. Before making your move, ask yourself, “What have I done to provoke this prospect’s interest so they want to accept my request for an appointment?”
It won’t work if you think you can start on a Thursday, call the next Monday and expect to get a positive response. It takes time to cultivate interest with top prospects. They want to feel comfortable with salespeople before agreeing to an appointment. This requires a well-crafted plan to establish your credibility.
John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer.