Looking at the roots might tell you more than examining what is above ground

The latest issue of A Chip off the Block is The Garden Edition and talks about  The Top 10 Things Sales Taught Me About Gardening here is my TeleSales Twist on Point #4.

Looking at the roots might tell you more than examining what is above ground

This was a great gardening tip from my Aunt! When you’re pulling up matted vines; flip the chunk over to look for something that is DIFFERENT than everything else. That is potentially a flower; examine it carefully before tossing it into the wheelbarrow.

The same is true in sales; what makes a prospect look DIFFERENT from the rest, my favorite difference is communication; they are available, it is a conversation vs. interrogation when we speak, and ideas are exchanged.

How about you? Look for differences in prospects to determine what makes one a weed and another a flower.

Yes I know that isn’t looking up – but none of my pictures show anything BUT weird looking dirt… so this is the best I could do to show ROOTS.

Because what we can see and what is underneath in TeleSales is what we are going to be talking more about today.

What We Can See

In the garden before things start to bloom, for the reluctant gardener like me – everything looks, well – green. We can count the number of leaves that identify a flower for me one one hand (and now that I’ve started gardening – perhaps I need to use a few fingers on the other hand as well).

prospecting is like this too!

In the beginning if it is green we treat it like a flower. It’s growing after all – so if I give it attention; some day they may possibly buy something from me.

Without having an understanding of what a prospect who will grow to be our Ideal Customer looks like early in the process, salespeople spend an extraordinary amount of time tending to:

  • people who have no authority
  • customers who have no intention of changing who they work with
  • accounts that will suck our brains dry but never buy

of course this takes away from the time we have to cultivate profitable relationships!

perception changes with experience

Now for all the botanists and avid gardeners, each leaf tells a story of what that plant will look like – weeks and even months down the road. It’s shape, texture, even smell identify what is to come.

As we get to know a prospect “type” better, we begin to identify traits that we love, tolerate, or hate. This gives us the ability to pull out the weeds early in the process and give the flowers more space – fertilizer – water all things they need to grow into our Ideal Customers.

What is Underneath

My Aunt’s advice about turning the ground over and examining the roots changed my perspective completely.  Especially with plants that have bulb like roots, I could identify the weeds vs. flowers.  Quickly seeing what to carefully extract and what to throw in my wheelbarrow.

Which got me to thinking, what are the traits underneath what I hear on the phone or see in my research that will identify weeds vs. flowers when I don’t know the prospect “type”?

Here are two of mine to get you thinking too:

  • reluctance to share information – I’m not talking about their deepest, darkest, corporate secrets; rather things that to me are general information about the organization that I can’t find via research.
    • what a person’s typical day looks like vs. their job title
    • an operator who will not transfer me without a specific name
    • when even with a referral name, someone is defensive about how I reached them

My favorite example of this is a company I called – when you reach their auto attendant and the only option is to dial an extension or leave a general voicemail message. Yup, not other options – I wonder how many potential customers go to their competition daily out of frustration.

  • asking me to take action without any commitment – one of my personal boundaries is if you want me to go put in effort, at minimum you have to commit to a conversation once I’ve done what you asked.
    • I’ll put together a quote/proposal – if you agree to a conversation when I win OR loose
    • research is fun for me, you need to commit to a discussion about the results
    • at minimum I need to know ‘what happens next’ before I go on my merry way

One prospect I spoke with asked,  in our first conversation, for me to layout a potential program for them.  To which I responded – I’d love to,  when can we talk a little more about your organization so the program is tailored to what your people need… The answer was “I just want you to send it to me via email, we don’t need to talk more – you should be able to do this without me.” Hmmm, I don’t want to work with a company that expects the right solution without adequate information.

All of these things will happen early on – assuming I can look at myself and know I did a good job in my prospecting (which depending on the situation or day isn’t necessarily true) – and are leading indicators of weeds in my world.

Now it is time for you to figure out what you hear early on that gives you a heads up to throw a prospect into the compost heap and move on.


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