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What skills do your people need to make the greatest sustainable improvement?

Knowing when to stop

Knowing when to stop

What do I mean by this? Well, there are really two strands to this: 
  1. Recognise when the customer is ready to buy and then let them do so! 
  2. Recgonise when you are just not going to get a sale and move on

Let’s think about each of these in turn.

Recognise when the customer is ready to buy
The jade sellers of ancient China are an interesting case in point. They would travel the roads and byways of what they called ‘the Middle Kingdom’ – that is, the centre of the earth, although I must admit they spoke about it in a slightly more Chinesey way than that, - trying to sell the pieces of jade that they had acquired from the jade superstore, just outside Beijing. Their sales style was interesting. They would maintain eye contact with the potential purchaser, as they took pieces of jade from their bag and placed it in the palm of their hand for inspection. By looking into the buyer’s eyes, they would maintain that they knew when the piece that was to be bought was on display, by observing the dilation of the pupils. 

You see, it remains true, that the eyes are the window to the soul

The pupils really do dilate when we are genuinely interested in, or moved by, something, or someone. The jade dealers would simply go for the close when they knew the time was right – any delay and the moment might be lost, the purchaser might have time to start re-considering. Alternatively, they might just become irritated when they see their time as being wasted and lose respect for the salesperson.
I can identify with that feeling. Doing the sort of work I do, I find myself, like many of you, no doubt, frequently staying in hotels – a tough life, but at least it means I haven’t had to buy any soap for the last five years, and those shower caps do make excellent covers for outside potted plants when there is a danger of frost.  I often turn up as the hotel restaurant opens for dinner, having decided what I want to eat and usually telling the maitre d that I would like to be served quickly and without undue fuss or delay. I then get really frustrated on those occasions when they proceed to treat me as if I was a romantic couple, out for a long, lingering meal and with nothing better to do – come to think of it, maybe a romantic couple would have something better to do too, but you get my drift.
There is more than one hotel that has lost my business, (which may not cause them many sleepless nights, but it makes me feel better, even when I end up somewhere less convenient) through simply not knowing when to stop – and the joke is, I never tell them, I simply walk away, so they never have the chance to solve the problem – all they had to do was treat me right in the first place.

You may remember that there were two points about knowing when to stop.

Recognise when a deal can’t be done and move on to more fertile ground.
A friend of mine used to be involved in a local political party and one of the things she would do, was at election time, go around canvassing – you know, knocking on doors, saying ‘hello, I’m from the Monster Raving Loony Party, I hope we can rely on your vote’. She told me that the people you avoided like the plague were those who said something like ‘Oh yes, I’d be very interested to discuss a couple of items that concern me, do come in for a cup of tea’, because they were the ones who were never going to vote for you in a million years and were simply trying to waste time, to stop you seeking out better opportunities elsewhere.
I believe the same applies in our world – the sales world. Not perhaps the tactical timewaster, so much, more the person who is never really going to be interested, but quite enjoys the chat. They are worse, in many ways than those who give you a more hostile reception and simply tell you straight to go away, or words to that effect. At least you can move straight on with them.

In some ways it is the ‘first reserve’ syndrome.

The person who is happy with their existing supplier, but if anything goes wrong ‘you’ll be my first reserve’. I believe we spend too much time courting such prospects. I don’t believe we should discount them completely and clearly it is important to have  a prospect list, which is regularly reviewed and added to – to spend too much time with those that are not progressing, however, is an inappropriate, and I would go so far as to say, unprofessional, use of an effective salesperson’s time.
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