“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” ― James C. Collins
Mr James Collins is a wise man, and in his book Good to Great he talks about aiming for great instead of settling for good enough. This idea is very easily applied to prospecting potential customers in the world of sales and business development. There might be lots of “good” prospects out there but only a handful that will be great parters for your organization long term.
One of the biggest mistakes I see salespeople make is thinking everyone has potential to be their customer. When you want to sell something and you really believe in your product it is easy to imagine how everyone could benefit from what you are providing. Also, this mentality can be the fastest way to missing “great opportunities” and settling for good ones.
The reality is that there will be plenty of people that will not be your customer, and for good reason. Your product offering and customer maintenance structure might not be the right fit for them. Recognizing and knowing when to walk away is what separates good sales people and great business development professionals.
The fact is that if someone is a difficult prospect to work with pre-sale, imagine the headache they will create for your company once they are on-boarded. These types of sales end up costing your company more money long term. Short term, you might have made your commission, but long term it is not worth it for everyone involved.
The mentality shift that is required to walk away from the wrong potential for the sake of a short term sale is the same as the abundance vs. scarcity mentality. When your thinking is scarce the belief is that you must sell to someone because if you don’t, another might not come along, you will miss your quota, the thinking is narrow. The abundance thinking mentality is one that says there is plenty, and by doing the right thing and walking away from the wrong deal you are fighting to close, another door will open and the quota will be met and the pipeline will broaden.
In the start up community, some of the most successful business’s are the ones that choose to pivot letting go of what was for the potential of what is to come. This abundance in thinking makes way for the opportunity, walking away from a prospect that is not the right fit for your product is the same exact concept.
A few books you would enjoy if this context shift in thinking interests you are Good to Great, a classic and Abundance by Peter Diamond. If you send me a message and inquire I would be happy to send you either book as an amazon gift.
I am very passionate about sales people pivoting to be business development professional, educating, researching and focusing on being strong industry resources.
Please let me know how your business development career is going, do you find that by walking away when it’s right to do so that you create new opportunity? I would love to talk with you about your experiences.
Lindsey Rainwater, also known as Lindsey RainH2O, is a sought-after business consultant, leadership coach, writer and presenter to the fitness and wellness industry. For more information about Rainwater, follow her on Twitter@LindseyRainH2O