Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline. He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.
“In the end, we’re all just fruit.” That is one of my all time favorite lines from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
That phrase has stuck with me all these years, and we continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System workshops and when we are working with our new clients.
NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"
Prospects- they have a shelf life just like fruit. Some of them a little longer than others. Bananas – not so long, apples and mandarins a little longer, potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes. The bottom line is that none of them last forever. You need to either pick them now or find a way to preserve them for later.
As you go about looking at the shelves for the produce you need for tonight’s meal or for meals over the next couple of days, you need to be somewhat selective so that the food you select is fresh enough for cooking and/or consuming.
WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME
The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle. They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week. They may be in the looking, considering, or “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!
Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle. The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio where I had purchased vehicles in the past. When the day came – my lease was expiring – I went in, told them I had a check in my pocket and would like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked for a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way and just let me buy. Two hours later, I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.
DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH
Here is the point. When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with prospects that aren’t quite ready or are already past their prime time for consumption. You may experience:
- That the prospect is too "green"
- They just opened a new account with their bank partner
- Just renewed their insurance
- Their lease expires in 11 months
If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects and work with them on solving their problem. Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf. Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready.