Imagine for a moment that you’re an active member of the shark-infested waters we like to call the “dating pool.” Say you’ve met someone online, expressed a vague mutual interest, and perhaps gone on a small handful of dates. There seems to be some chemistry between you two: maybe they wear cool hats, and you both love Chris Farley movies. Yet every time you try to schedule the next date, the prospective partner in question makes excuses, leaves your messages unread, or otherwise postpones making the plans necessary to further your budding romance. Would you consider this person a good candidate for relationship?
If you’re like me, your answer is probably, “Aw heck naw! Relationships take mutual investment in order to be successful. If they can’t find time for you, they’re probably not that into you!”
So the question stands. If you wouldn’t tolerate unilateral involvement in a romantic relationship, why is it so commonly tolerated in the sales process? Salespeople the world over spend countless hours trying to drag deals with disinterested parties down their pipeline, even when the writing seems to be on the wall. Here are my thoughts on what’s going on here:
Alternately, for those of us who prefer Baldwin to Affleck, you could call it “Glengarry Glen Ross culture.”
That is to say, salespeople are often told both implicitly and explicitly that the only way to be successful is by sheer force of will. While I’m not discounting the importance of hard work and persistence in sales, I do believe that this attitude can give salespeople a bad name and create toxic, ineffective sales organizations. While that may not be the case for all companies, with Distillery’s prospective clients, I’m far more interested in finding out how to create a successful working relationship than I am in simply creating a sale. I’ve learned that there’s value in turning clients away if we aren’t well-matched, both for the client and for our business. And I would much rather devote my time to one prospective client who is interested, engaged, and well-suited for our offering than trying to shoehorn ten poorly suited ones into a deal. This approach preserves my time (which is one of my most valuable resources), along with my prospects inbox.
I want to re-emphasize that I am not denigrating the importance of persistence in the sales process. I get that people are busy and things can get lost on their to-do lists for weeks or even months at a time. With some prospective clients, I have kept in touch on a weekly basis over several months — certain that one day they were going to snap and tell me to buzz off — only to have them thank me for my persistence once the deal was closed. I’m simply advocating a more sensible, client-centered approach to sales that takes into account not only what a client says, but what a client does.
Sales is a two-way street, and my job as Distillery’s Partnership Director is to find the best way to add the most value to my clients’ businesses. As in any good relationship, it makes both parties’ lives better. So if they’re acting like they’re just not that into you, it may be best to simply move on.
Interested in talking with Distillery about your project or staffing needs? Let us know. We promise not to overstay our welcome.
As Distillery’s Partnership Director, Sam Wheeler is responsible for building strategic client and industry relationships. He’s passionate about matching clients with innovative, custom-fit solutions that help them grow their businesses. In a former career as an elementary school teacher, he learned the value of putting people at the center of everything you do. When he’s not working, he loves spending time at home with his wife and daughter, enjoying frequent hikes, BBQs, and trips to the coffee shop.