When things aren’t going well, salespeople often give in to the quick and easy to get through those troublesome dry spells. Others become so addicted, they never reach higher. It’s easy to fall under the spell of the lure of low-hanging fruit.
Yet, those who excel in sales develop skills that add value to their careers and enhance their confidence. They also know that going after low-hanging fruit prevents them from raising their sights, caps their capabilities and prevents them from embracing challenges.
It also earns them a reputation they deserve, but not as members of the A team. It doesn’t prepare them for either tougher times or for new and more demanding opportunities. Transaction-dependent, they’re known for what they are, order takers.
At the same time, going after the low-hanging fruit has its rewards. It boosts dented egos, and salespeople feel busy and productive. But at the high cost of diverting them from where they want to be.
The problem isn’t just low-hanging fruit. The mind-set it fosters does the permanent damage in those who:
- never have enough leads. They complain that the good leads go to other salespeople, particularly the sales manager’s “favorites.”
- don’t cultivate prospects. They just want to sell and view staying in touch with prospects a waste of time because “they’ll never buy.”
- change jobs frequently. “That wasn’t a good fit.” “The manager was always looking over my shoulder.” “They didn’t know what they were doing.”
Even so, the lure of the low-hanging fruit is not about to disappear. For some in furniture sales, it’s just too good to pass up. “Someone’s going to get the easy ones, so why not me?” they say.
But that’s not the whole story. Come face-to-face with the reality of low-hanging fruit. Just because there’s low-hanging fruit today doesn’t mean it will be plentiful tomorrow. In fact, the vision of an endless supply may be an illusion.
Whether we like it or not, more and more business is purely transactional, not relational. When a customer says, “I’ll get back to you,” what he means is, “I’ll get back to you if I can’t find a lower price.”
This applies to every price level. Price trumps quality, reliability and guarantees. It’s true whether something costs $399 or $3,999. The search, online or in your store, cuts through the clutter to reach the lowest price. When sales are purely transactional, selling is no longer a legacy profession.
While some in sales may not be proud of falling prey to the lure of low-hanging fruit and try to hide it as best they can, others see the fallacy. Once hooked, breaking dependence on a low-hanging-fruit habit isn’t easy. But answering the following three questions may help:
1. Which prospects can help you reach your sales objectives?
What are their characteristics? What makes them a good fit for you? What do you know about each one? What more do you need to know so you’ll be thoroughly prepared before making contact?
Be selfish and disciplined. You only have so much time, so spend it where it counts. Pass up the others or hand them off to a colleague. This isn’t easy, and it takes discipline not to be seduced by the lure of the easy sale.
2. Why should they do business with you?
Identifying the appropriate prospects isn’t good enough. Now comes the critical question: “Why should each one want do business with me?”
They may be a good match for you (or even a perfect one) — but that won’t get you to the goal. Gut instinct doesn’t count, and neither does intuition. By itself, a good match won’t do it. Neither will having a referral or even a personal introduction. You must know enough about your customers and what they want so you can stake your life on why it’s in their best interest to do business with you.
Don’t even think about asking for an in-home appointment until you know the customer as well as he knows himself. You’ll only be wasting his time and yours.
3. What’s your plan so the customer wants to meet with you?
After getting info on a prospect, most salespeople go for the close. Overly eager, they stumble. They think they’re ready when they’re not, so they blow it.
They need to ask themselves, “What have I done to prepare prospects so they want to accept my attempt to close?” In other words, what have you done to provoke their interest?
It won’t work if you think you can start on Thursday and expect a positive response when you call on Monday. It takes time to cultivate interest with top prospects. They want to feel comfortable with salespeople before saying yes. This requires a well-crafted plan to establish your creds.
All this may sound like a lot of work leading to unnecessary delays. Perhaps. There is, of course, an alternative: Being left with the low-hanging fruit.