You’re sitting in an office with a prospect that has no need, want, or desire for your product — or, you’re talking to someone who’s not the decision maker — or, the prospect is happy with their current vendor, and they’re not going to change in the foreseeable future. It’s all just a big waste of time… or is it?
Leads Can Come From Many Directions
It was the last week of August, 1970. I’d recently dropped out of college, gotten married, and was expecting a child any day. A week later, my daughter, Dawna Marie, was born. The trouble was — I had no insurance and I was flat broke. I took a job in the evenings selling vacuum sweepers door-to-door. I needed a way to pay for the medical care.
One night, I was demonstrating the sweeper to some nice folks, but I wondered if they could afford the product. Regardless, I gave the best, most enthusiastic presentation I could — that’s how I roll. Besides, I believed in the product, I owned one for years (my ex got custody of it in the divorce). It wasn’t until we began discussing finances that it became clear it wasn’t in their budget. My suspicions were right. I had wasted my time. I should have pre-qualified this lead before I opened a case. Then I heard, “I work at a motel, my boss is looking for sweepers, are you allowed to sell them to a business?” The motel bought several and, along with a few others I sold that week, I earned enough to cover the medical care.
What’s the Lesson?
The lesson is you never know who you’re talking to. I’ve read a lot of blogs extolling the idea of not wasting time with the wrong customer. I’ve listened to salespeople in many industries complain about small jobs or orders, and I’ve seen companies turn away business because something didn’t “feel” right. Maybe they’re right. I’m certain some prospects may be a bad fit. I’m sure occasional small orders aren’t cost effective, and I know it’s frustrating to invest time on a job that isn’t going anywhere, but I keep coming back to — you never know who you’re talking to.
Is it Wasted Time?
Last week, a vendor reached out on LinkedIn. They wanted to meet and tour our facility. Although I told them I saw no current need for their product, and I wasn’t the decision maker, I’d be happy to meet. After we met, I sat down with our president, Tommy Taulman. I explained who the visitors represented, and asked if he had any interest in their product (he didn’t). I apologized for wasting 40 minutes. He told me, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a meeting that I thought was a waste of time that led to business.” He proceeded to share a couple of stories. You never know who you’re talking to, do you?
Have you experienced a productive outcome to a “wasted” meeting? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below.