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In Sales, It’s Now or Never. Or Is It? – Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part blog, I exposed two problems that can arise when a salesperson too quickly decides that a prospect is unqualified and not worth wasting time on:

    A sales rep dismisses a possible buyer as “unqualified” way too early in the call. By cutting the conversation short, the rep may be sending a potential buyer-in-need off to a competitor.
    Since the goal of increasing revenue usually has an urgency to it, the rep decides that a prospect who is not ready to buy right now is not worth the time of an extended conversation.

The Pit of Despair

From the company’s perspective, the false negative problem is a disaster: a perfectly good buyer has been sent to a competitor. The fact that no one noticed doesn’t make it less of a disaster. False negatives represent pure leakage of value. And hidden leaks, whether in potential deals or in a pipeline transporting expensive fuel, are the worst kind. Not only is value being relentlessly destroyed, but no one notices, and therefore no one does anything about it. It shows up on the company’s P&L as higher-than-necessary marketing costs. But who knew what was really necessary? So the cost is eaten, and the business suffers.

From the company’s perspective, the timing problem also represents wasted opportunity. How is this? After all, the buyers with bad timing are all sent to Marketing for nurturing, where they will be “dripped upon” and socially engaged and persona-fied, tracked and tempted and lead-scored until, hopefully, they come back in their own sweet time, finally ready to buy.

Look Who’s Talking

Of course, it is possible that your competitors are all doing the same nurturing, probably based on assigning the same buyer the same persona. It is possible that your nurturing is simply the best. It is possible that your content is both insightful and unique. It is possible that you are winning the war for this buyer’s attention without ever having to waste time on another wasteful qualifying conversation.

The problem is that while you are busy nurturing, your fiercest competitor might be cheating. How? By actually having a conversation with the buyer while the timing is still bad. That one conversation will give your competitor information you don’t have. And it will start building a trusted advisor relationship that goes beyond blogs, white papers, tweets, and LinkedIn posts. So when the buyer finally returns as a hand-raiser, you may find they are already holding hands with someone else.

Secrets Will Be Revealed

When you do the math, the optimum solution is to go ahead and have regular conversations with your intrinsically qualified buyers. How do you know they are intrinsically qualified? Because it is 2016, and the answers to the big qualification questions are out on the internet for all to see. There may also be faint timing signals for all to see, but they are nothing compared to what you learn from a real conversation.

By simply having a real conversation with every intrinsically qualified buyer roughly every 90 days, you become that fierce competitor who is “cheating” by refusing to play the “me too” nurturing game by everyone else’s rules. You get access to that buyer’s real secrets — what they need, what’s driving them crazy, what they can and can’t do, and when.

Your competitor decides to save a few dollars and stick to inexpensive nurturing. You build a relationship. And when the timing is finally right for a deal, the prospect will go visit all the other sites and read all the other content. But you will be smiling, because you know who they will end up with. Because it turns out that the sales conversations are the ultimate content, and having those conversations is the ultimate nurturing. And winning is the ultimate reward.

Link to the first part of this two-part series: Part 1