Dan felt good about this sales presentation. He had spent three weeks thoroughly researching the prospects. He had studied the prospects’ company, their industry, even their competitors. He could detail the company’s structure right down to the names of its operators. This was not a large account, but landing it would be great.
Dan felt he finally knew enough to make a credible presentation. Questions might still be raised that he didn’t know the answers to. He was prepared for that, but the thought still turned his stomach.
An hour into his detailed presentation, he started to panic. His prospects seemed mildly attentive but aloof. One person’s eyes had glazed over. Had he missed an important detail? Surely not! He was outlining all the facts and figures. He was presenting a most logical case. His mind was whirring. What other important fact should he bring up?
Should he go over warranty issues again and in greater detail? He was concentrating more on his presentation than on the people who sat before him.
Another long hour passed before he was finally through. Politely, each person rose, shook his hand, complimented him on his depth of knowledge and promised to get back to him. He knew he should feel elated, but he didn’t. No one had asked an awkward question. In fact, they had asked very few questions. They knew he really understood them, didn’t they? He had laid out the facts in a clear, logical manner. Those facts were blinding, and the next logical step was for them to buy. “If it were up to me,” he thought, “I would definitely buy.” But they did not.
Dan has a career-killing habit called Overpreparer Sales Call Reluctance. His presentations are so logical and detailed that they are actually boring!
Overpreparers are often let down by their lack of results. They are so information-bound themselves that they tend to spout facts. They assume prospects will see the logic and buy. They fail to recognize the emotional hot buttons.
Dan also committed a second Overpreparer sin: he neglected other possible prospects. He appeased his sales manager by asking endless questions and requesting information. His sales manager had no reason to complain, because Dan always appeared to be busy. He just wanted Dan to spread his energies to more prospects.
The fear. Overpreparers have a mindnumbing fear of not knowing enough. They dread that prospects will ask questions they cannot answer. So they go way beyond the point where preparation ceases to be useful.
Overpreparers overindulge themselves in getting ready. As a result, they often do not have the time to do the things they are getting ready for. They use preparation as an excuse for not prospecting or selling. They are just unable to translate knowledge into sales.
Motivation? Sales managers see a lack of prospecting as a lack of motivation. They send people like Dan to motivational workshops—the worst place to send an Overpreparer. This type of salesperson is not motivated by hype.
At motivational workshops, there is usually a time when participants are asked to raise their hands. Most stretch their hands up, trying to touch the ceiling. Overpreparers’ hands barely reach their shoulders, and their quizzical look says: “What the heck is this all about?”
Rather than hype, it is more effective to appeal to their sense of logic. Even this is dangerous, because they have their own ideas about what is logical. Overpreparers require good management. Sometimes just making them aware of what overpreparation is and how it damages sales careers is enough.
The difficulty is determining which requests are genuine and which are due to Overpreparer Sales Call Reluctance. Here’s one way: If the answer satisfies the salesperson and he acts on that information, fine. If the answer results in more requests for information, you may be dealing with an Overpreparer.
Remind salespeople that, while further knowledge is desirable, they should be able to act on the information they already have. A technique I use is to give them a deadline to complete a task and then hold them accountable.