The Biggest Sin In Sales

March 1, 2017 John Barrows

Do you know the biggest sin in sales?  It’s not to lose a deal.  It’s to take too long to lose a deal.

You know the ones: they sit in our pipeline or forecast as the 20 percenters and get pushed out month over month over month because we’re “saying there’s a chance.”  We, like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber (video included for your viewing pleasure below), are the eternal optimists in Sales.  We always think there’s a chance and so we hold on to dead deals forever, even when a client hasn’t responded to 15 e-mails and 20 calls to “touch base” and “check in.”

It’s understandable why this happens.  It takes a lot of work to get a client to the point where they’re requesting a proposal. We cold call, qualify, meet, present, navigate the org chart to find power, fend off competition, handle objections, and expend a ton of effort with the hope they will eventually choose us.  Unfortunately, as we go through this process we sometimes are blinded by this hope and don’t really see what’s happening.

Many times the client is just going through the motions because they feel they have to.  Sometimes they’ve already made the decision to use a competitor but keep us in the game because their boss told them to evaluate three vendors. Regardless of the reason, we need to make sure we pay attention to the equality of the relationship. Here’s where scorekeeping comes in.

We’re not only the eternal optimists in Sales, but we’re also the “givers.” We give the client almost anything they ask for with the hope that we will get what we want in the end: the signed contract. Unfortunately, “giving” and “hope” are not exactly the best strategies. By giving a client everything they ask for and accepting little in return, we’re conditioning them to disrespect us and continue to ask for things like more discounts and more time.

Think about it. You know those kids whose parents give them everything they want without having to earn it?  How respectful are those kids?  What happens when they don’t get what they want?  They freak out.  Clients are the same way.

We need to start conditioning our clients from the minute we engage with them.  Every time they ask us for something we should be asking for something of relatively equal value in return.  Ideally, this give and take is related so that we can say something like, “In order for me to give you exactly what you’re looking for, I’m going to need this in return.”  This shouldn’t be a contentious thing. You should genuinely be interested in giving them exactly what they want because it should also serve your needs.

If they don’t give you what you’re asking for, you can still give them what they want but with the understanding that the “score” is no longer equal. Pay attention to the score. Don’t let it get too far off course. If you are asking for logical things and they aren’t being given to you, ask yourself if this deal is real or not.

I know it’s hard, but if the score gets too uneven, you’re better off walking away before you commit the worst sin in sales.

Start by developing lists. What do your prospects ask from you? What do you want from your prospects?  Try to match them up so you can make the connection and mean it when you say, “In order for me to give you exactly what you’re looking for I need this…”

Keep score and know when to walk away.  Don’t be like Jim Carrey and rely on hope as your strategy to succeed.  Make it happen!

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