Perseverance and determination are critically important talents for a seller. No one disputes that. But, the flip side of perseverance is stalking and that of determination is mule-headed.
The question often isn't whether to give up, it is when.
I know, I know. Everyone's favorite theory is "never give up"!
Professional sellers realize very quickly that the amount of time available for prospecting diminishes as they become more successful. One reason is because some sellers are tasked with securing the initial sale from a prospect and providing continuing service beyond the sale. The more sales one makes, the more time one spends on the service side of the equation and the less time available for bringing in new business.
This truth makes it imperative that every seller have a system for choosing prospects. A qualification process that assures each prospect is worth the time spent trying to turn them into a customer. In most service businesses, the process includes an evaluation of a prospect's revenue potential, access to the prospect's decision makers, product /service fit and the account manager's desire to commit to the sales process.
Can the prospect afford to do business with you? If being a successful advertiser on your advertising vehicle requires that a customer spend $5,000 per week, you'll need to know if the prospects to whom you are speaking can afford to spend at least $5,000 per week. There are many ways to figure this out but since it is not the crux of this article, we'll need to tackle it at another time.
Access to Decision Makers
If there is absolutely no way to get in front of the decision maker; it will hardly matter if the prospect has all the revenue potential in the world. Let's not confuse the advertising agency with the client in this case. If you have access to the decision makers at the advertising agency but not the client, then the advertising agency is your real customer and the revenue potential of the account is reduced to the amount of money being allocated to the agency.
Sellers must be rigorous in determining whether a product will appeal to the audience they reach. The temptation to chase all dollars regardless of product fit is a trap that ensnares the negligent and sucks their time.
Desire to Commit
When a seller comes across a prospect with the three characteristics described above they often conclude that they have found a great prospect. But, the final piece of the puzzle is the seller's willingness to work hard for the prospect's business over the course of time. While it may seem silly to think that a seller wouldn't be committed to calling on a prospect that satisfies the first three qualifiers, it happens all the time. For example, some sellers don't want to call on car dealers, for example. Sellers must display a passion for the industry category of the prospect or else the prospect won't feel as if the seller really has his interests in mind. While there are some sellers who are pretty good at pretending they have an interest in everything under the sun, most don't have a passion for digging deep into every industry and can't fake it, either.
Determined sellers calling on prospects they have qualified using the system above might be tempted to call on them forever. But, keep in mind that the qualifying system is based on our perspective as sellers. The prospects might not agree with our conclusion and might find our advances unwanted or even annoying. In light of this, there may come a time when a seller should give up on a qualified prospect.
Experienced and wise sellers will be able to figure this out after having a meaningful conversation with the prospect's decision makers. They might learn that the prospect doesn't have the necessary revenue potential for the seller's medium because the prospect just doesn't believe in using that medium. Or, the prospect might not believe that the seller's audience fits the product quite so much as the seller believes it.
Either way, when the prospect's decision maker has listened to the seller and rejected his medium and/or his advertising vehicle it is almost time to give up. When the seller has offered multiple arguments in an effort to change the decision maker's mind and is still unable, it is getting closer to the time to give up. When the decision maker has called the seller's sales manager and suggested that his next call is the local police department, then chances are good it is time to give up.
But, of course, not forever.
Only for as long as the decision maker is in place. As soon as the prospect has a new decision maker the process begins anew!
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