Salesperson Time Waster #1 – Following up

Salesperson Time Waster #1 – Following up

By Dan Caramanico


Ninety five percent of time salespeople spend following up is a colossal waste of time. I know, I know!! Many of you reading this article are saying “is he crazy”? “Persistence in following up is one of my greatest assets. I never give up and a few of my clients bought from me just because of that persistence.”  In fact the sales literature is filled with stirring examples of the indefatigable salesperson dogging a prospect until they finally give in and buy something. These make great inspirational stories, but I wouldn’t want to build a career on that strategy. It wastes too much of your valuable time and will wear you out before you can make any real money. The top salespeople don’t need to follow up because they close the business now and no follow up is needed. Or they determine that there is no real need to follow up because there is no business to be had from that prospect. Again no follow up is needed. Here are some reasons salespeople waste time following up:

  • Happy ears – The sales person hears what they want to hear. The prospect gives them some faint praise about their presentation and the salesperson interprets through his happy ear filter that they love the product and will buy it. He becomes so excited that he agrees to get back to the prospect with more information. He fails to understand that the prospect is just being nice and there is no compelling reason to buy. The prospect is giving them an indirect message that they are not interested enough to buy but the salesperson can’t take a hint.
  • Not qualifying hard enough – The salesperson mistakes passing interest for a compelling reason to buy or they fail to establish that the prospect has enough money to afford the product or service. The prospect puts them off for a month or two as a way to avoid saying no and the salesperson starts a long follow up sequence that will eventually lead nowhere.

There plenty of examples that are similar to the two given here but they are all fairly similar and spring from the salesperson not being able to distinguish a real prospect from one who is just interested or too weak to tell you the truth.

So what is the remedy? It is simple really. Make the prospect prove to you that they have a compelling reason to move forward and have the ability and desire to consummate a deal if you get that far. Make sure that if they are not buying today, that you end the first meeting with a specific action that will take place at a specific point in time in the future. However, the most important asset you can have to avoid wasting time is a firm belief that your time is valuable and that you shouldn’t waste it on unqualified prospects. That belief and an effective selling process will let you end pursuits as soon as they lose the compelling reason to buy or more importantly not begin long follow up sequences with prospects who are too nice to tell you no.


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Dan Caramanico is a salesforce development expert and he is the author of Attributes of The Optimal Salesperson® One of Selling power’s top ten books for 2010 and Optimal Selling, Sales Conversations of the Optimal Salesperson.


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