Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with a salesperson as they made calls in the field. As we made our way from account to account I couldn’t help but notice the potential business we were passing. They were at the very least contacts and potentially good prospects from my perspective.
“Why aren’t we stopping to see them?” I asked as we passed another potential account.
“Oh, he isn’t going to buy,” the salesperson said. “He doesn’t believe he needs (what this person was selling). I’ve called on him till I’m blue in the face.”
“Oh,” I replied. “What’s his name?”
“Oh, I forget at the moment. But, I know him and he knows me.”
“Well, let’s stop and let me introduce myself,” I added.
Now, keep in mind I had been hired to work with a sales team to find new areas of untapped business for them. Initially, my goal was to discover unconventional, non-traditional prospects they could work.
However, the longer we rode the more I became convinced they were leaving business on the table in their own area of expertise! Prospective customers they should be calling on. But, through either laziness or prejudging or whatever excuse you want to make, they weren’t even calling on (by my estimation) over 50% of their potential market.
Not even calling on them! WOW!
So, we stopped to see this person that “would NEVER” buy.
You can probably guess the rest of the story–or at least a close facsimile. The business had been sold by the guy that would NEVER buy (sit down)…in 2007!
Five years ago!
For five years this salesperson prejudged a prospect he hadn’t even met!
Before we left that day, a follow meeting was set and at least the dialogue was started. At least there was something to work with. And, by the way the new owners (well, they aren’t really new anymore) talked, they were very receptive to hearing a proposal.
As I left that week, I asked the salesperson to keep me in the loop and let me know how it turned out. I haven’t heard anything–which leads me to believe they probably became a customer and the salesperson was too embarrassed to admit it.
So, here are a couple of reminders for us all:
-Don’t prospect from your car! Get out and meet people face-to-face. Introduce yourself.
-If you’re going to prejudge, assume everyone is going to buy!
Your business will thank you in the long run
I’ll be the first to admit there comes a time when you must stop wasting time with someone who isn’t going to buy, but people move to different jobs, sell businesses, retire and decision makers change every day. Never, ever, ever think you know your market so well that you lose sight of the obvious.