Been There, Done That

You know the drill. You meet with a prospect and immediately they want you to spill your guts about what you do, how you do it, whom you do it with and how much you do it for. They want you to do this and yet they are unwilling to share with you what their problems are, how much money they have budgeted and how they go about making decisions.

Why does this happen and more importantly how do you prevent it from happening to begin with? The why parties are easy to explain. Ignorant managers have taught salespeople that “sales is a numbers game” and that the more proposals they give the more sales they make. Consequently, they run all over the planet puking, vomiting, and pitching product information to anyone who will fog a mirror. The result of this is that prospects have been conditioned that they should receive and are entitled to a “free education” from salespeople. So when you show up they expect you to jump through hoops and spill your guts like the last incompetent peddler.

How do you stop this? First, you must make a decision to stop doing it. Secondly, when you meet with a prospect establish some Rules of Engagement. This amounts to setting an agreed to agenda as to what will be discussed and in what order it will be discussed. As part of this process, you must tell your prospect that you are not there to pitch a product, give a quote or give a demo or presentation.

You tell them that you are there to conduct an evaluation of their situation much like what a physician would do and that like a physician you don’t make diagnoses or write prescriptions until you have done a thorough examination. If your prospect resists letting you conduct an evaluation and insists that you give them a “quote or proposal’ you politely get up and leave. That way you avoid wasting your time and theirs. It takes guts to do this but in the long run, you will be better off.