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Sep 7-13, 1998

Knowing Where You Stand

jack carrollby Jack Carroll

Because I work with so many salespeople in a mentoring or training mode, people ask me about my experiences. One of the most frequent questions I am asked is what the biggest mistake that salespeople make is that would result in the largest payoff if they could eliminate it from their lives. The answer is a cinch, since it is so widespread and costly.

The answer: not knowing where you stand after asking your questions, doing your presentation, and taking your leave. Not knowing where you stand is another way of saying that you don't know where the prospect stands on buying your product.

How does this darkness and unknowing come about? Usually, because you don't directly ask them where you (and they) stand.

Why don't you ask? My theory is that most salespeople don't ask because they don't want to hear bad news. They would rather hear no news at all and live on false hopes and desires than face a "No, thanks." They would rather show their managers a fat pipeline (with a lot of 'not knowing' in every stage) than be faced with reality, however uninspiring.

The problem is that all of those false hopes and wishes take so much time to tend that there's little time or energy left in the day for anything else. And that is one of the most significant prices to be paid for not knowing where you stand. It wastes so much time and nourishes false hopes.

But perhaps the greatest penalty of all in not asking, is not finding out what problems or issues they are facing or wrestling with in moving forward. If you don't know about their problems, you can't do much to help ease them through them.


Reader Response
  • posted by Aram Attarian,

    So unfortunately true, and so many sales managers knowingly perpetuate this by encouraging "fat pipelines" in order to look good (rather than being good). This is partly due to the generally abyssmal forecasting methodology used in the high tech and other industries. Yes?

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Sales Tip and Practice
Tie a string around your little finger and ask yourself after every call with a qualified prospect who has need of your products or services:
  1. Did I ask for commitment?
  2. Do I really know where I stand?

If the answer to number 1 is no, remember to do so next time. If the answer to number 2 is no, turn around, go back in, and say "I'm sorry, I forgot to ask. Would you mind telling me where you stand with regard to moving forward with this transaction?"

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