The Limits to Grit – Avoiding Atlas’s Fate

Why can it take so long to form a new business relationship?

In general, great salespeople are persistent. We celebrate “grit” in a salesperson.

Most business people are familiar with the maxim: 80 percent of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact.

image002This is very often with good reason. For instance:

  • Our prospect may be in a long-term contract with a competitor.
  • Our offer must be budgeted for the next year.
  • We need to wait for the next season – particularly for a cyclical product.
  • Sometimes the prospect needs to use up existing competitive inventories.
  • In a complex sale, we need to persuade a number of decision-makers; this can take time.
  • Switching costs can be extensive and need planning.
  • If our offer entails significant organizational change, we may need to wait our turn until more urgent change programs are implemented.

So persistence may be mandatory and can reap huge rewards.

However… could there be too much persistence? Is it possible salespeople are making too many sales calls because of an unbalanced sales presentations?

At times, salespeople forget there are three proofs to be made:

  1. The Salesperson – An authentic, credible source of solutions
  2. The Offer (including economic justification)
  3. The Company –Reliable

image004Presenting the offer should ideally include test drives, an economic justification drawing on your “WOW” toolbox.

Presenting the company should ideally include testimonials, case histories and reference checks.

When salespeople focus extensively or exclusively on selling personal relationship, we shouldn’t be surprised it takes five to 12 sales calls.These salespeople are carrying too much on their shoulders – like Atlas.

Instead of using all the resources at their command, these salespeople are depending on their personal relationship. When the personal relationship has to also stand for the integrity of the offer and the reliability of the company – when the salesperson has to become identical in the customer’s mind with the offer and company – it shouldn’t be surprising the selling process with new customers gets extended.

By doing the balanced sales presentation, the salesperson can significantly reduce the selling cycle.