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Walk a mile in your prospect’s shoes

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During a recent sales training workshop, we were discussing the challenges of getting prospects to make buying decisions. One person (let’s call him “Jim”) spoke up and shared an example of how not to approach this delicate subject.

One of his prospects (who we’ll call “Marty”) had had some sample products in his possession for a few months—much longer than the allotted time of four weeks. Jim’s superior demanded that he get the prospect to either return the products or place an order.

So Jim sent Marty an email which stated something along the lines of “You have had ample time to try our product and since you haven’t made a decision, it’s time for me to collect my toys and go home.”

Jim told the workshop attendees that, while he did persuade the prospect to make a purchase, the prospect had expressed disappointment at the tone of his email. Marty’s response was “I know you’re under pressure to close deals, but you really need to think twice about sending emails like that. You have no idea what I’m going through right now. I’m working with 50-percent fewer resources and yet I’m expected to achieve the same results I used to.”

There is no question that we’re under constant pressure to close deals faster in order to reach our sales goals. However, it’s important for us to remember that some of our prospects have pressing problems we don’t understand and can’t even imagine. And sometimes these problems make taking action on a particular buying decision extremely difficult.

Often it’s in our best interest to exercise patience and show empathy and understanding for our prospects’ unique buying challenges. We’re not the only people they’re dealing with. They are likely juggling multiple projects and have competing priorities. And, most important, they are severely time-crunched—all of which makes our insistence on immediate action unproductive.

Walk a mile in your prospect’s shoes. Think about how you would like a salesperson to proceed when dealing with you. Would you want someone to pressure you into making a buying decision before you’re ready? Consider these things—and then tread lightly.

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