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Early Failure is Better Than Late Failure

Donal Daly, CEO of The TAS Group, wrote a great post (Early failure is better than late failure) on his company’s blog that is more than worthy of your consideration. (Disclosure: The TAS Group is a subscriber to ESR’s research.)

In the post Donal discusses the not-often-enough-overcome challenge of effective qualification.  From the post:

When budgets are tight – as they are in times like this – opportunities are sometimes hard to come by.  When that happens you’re tempted to chase anything that moves, succumb to demands for extortionate discounts, or throw in extra products for free.  All this does is make it harder to make your number.  You will need to do more deals to reach your quota, and as word gets around of the deals you are prepared to do you enter the death spiral.

Easy for you to say, you might think.  With so many fewer deals out there, you’re telling me to have my salespeople qualify harder and eliminate some of those potential opportunities? you continue. 

Precisely.

So why isn’t effective qualification something every salesperson does automatically, like eating, breathing, and submitting expense reports? 

I see three predominant reasons: 

First of all, it’s not in many salespeoples’ DNA.  Optimism is often considered a critical trait for a salesperson.  For many salespeople, denial is only one small baby step from optimism.  They don’t ask the tough questions because they don’t want to hear the answers.  (It was Mark Twain who said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”  He wasn’t a sales consultant, but probably could have been with such an insightful remark.)

Secondly, some subset of you, their managers, also don’t want to hear the truth.   Alexander Pope wasn’t a sales consultant either, but with his observation that “Hope springs eternal,” he could have fooled me.

Finally—and I think Donal will jump aboard on this one—there is too often no method (accompanied by the appropriate learning and tools) provided to sales people for them to effectively qualify opportunities.

During these challenging times, can your sales team to raise their hit rate against the smaller number of opportunities that may be available to them?  If not, you’ve got to take a serious look at your total approach to qualification. 

Photo: © James Steidl – Fotolia.com

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One Response

  1. Too many salespeople have the idea they have to take every sales appointment to the end. Maybe to prove to themselves they can close or not.

    The way I was taught and the way I teach is at any point in the sales process you can’t get a full commitment from the prospect, break off the appointment and get out.

    There’s better use of your time than “beating a dead horse” and it will save your self esteem from getting a swift kick

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