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The Contamination of Low-Hanging Fruit
Pursuing These Opportunities Can Ruin Your Other Sales Efforts

Jill Konrath

In another article I talked about how pursuing "low-hanging fruit" (companies who are ripe to buy) can often be a futile effort. Often these prospects have made their decision and are only comparison-shopping

Today I'd like to look at another problem caused by chasing low-hanging fruit - and how, if you're not careful, it can negatively affect your other sales opportunities.

Here's the deal. There are three kinds of prospective customers:

- Low-hanging Fruit: They have decided to make a change and are actively looking at options.

- Fertile Seeds: They could benefit from your product or service, but don't know it yet.

- Rotten Apples: They have absolutely no interest or need right now. (We'll ignore them today.)

When you're selling to Low-hanging Fruit, they want to know all about your products or services so they can make the best possible decision. They're eager for in-depth knowledge of your capabilities, systems, processes, company, pricing and more.

So how does affect sellers? Very likely, you're doing lots and lots of talking in this stage of the sales process. FABs (features-advantages-benefits) spew out of your mouth, one after the other, as you make your best pitch, demonstrate your product or give a presentation.

"Tell us more. Tell us more," encourage the Low-hanging Fruit, hanging onto your every word. So you keep on talking, highlighting your strengths and differentiating your offering from competitors. And, if you're really good you win the big prize - their business.

What could possibly be wrong with this scenario you might ask?

First of all, your best sales opportunities are with the Fertile Seeds. It's a proven fact. And, there are tons more of these prospects than Low-hanging Fruit.

Second, if you can improve the Fertile Seed's less-than-perfect way of doing things, you position yourself as an invaluable resource and naturally develop a strong relationship. Finally, because competitors haven't tainted them yet, they work with you to establish their decision-making criteria.

Sounds perfect, right? Just where you want to be with customers. But in order to win business from these Fertile Seeds, you have to be a master questioner. Not talker. Questioner.

Here's where the problems come in. If you've been busy chasing the Low-hanging Fruit, you've been doing lots of talking. If you've just introduced a new product, your problem gets even worse. Talk Talk Talk.

Without going into a detailed scientific explanation, the sad fact is that this behavior actually creates an indelible imprint deep in the seller's hypothalamus (located at the base of the brain). This imprint causes the seller's autonomous response system to be triggered whenever he or she encounters any type of sales situation. The jaws open and shut rapidly, as the seller becomes overcome with a fit of what doctor's call "featurous vomititis."

Enter the Fertile Seed. Faced with sellers who can't stop talking, they immediately react negatively. Perhaps you've heard their comments; "We're not interested. We're happy with our current system/supplier. Everything is fine. We can't spend any money now."

If the Fertile Seed is really nice they'll listen politely for a while. But as soon as they can, they'll cut the seller off. A wasted opportunity. Down the drain. Gone. Perhaps never again to be resurrected.

Fertile Seeds don't want to hear about your offering. They only want to talk about their business - their needs, goals, challenges and gaps. Your product or service is irrelevant. Even if it's 10x better than anything else or 50% cheaper, they just don't care to listen. Besides that, they don't believe you since you've done nothing to show you're interested in helping them.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • What works for selling to Low-hanging Fruit doesn't work when selling to Fertile Seeds. Sellers who don't paying attention will inadvertently sell the wrong way, actually damaging their opportunity to get the business.
  • Fertile Seeds could care less about your product or service; they only care about their business. Questions are the key to sales success - good high quality questions, focused on their needs, issues and concerns.
  • I have good news to report from the medical community: Recent studies have shown that the brain damage caused by the Low-hanging Fruit Syndrome (as it's more commonly called) is not irreversible. A full recovery is possible with the help of properly certified questioning therapists and diligent work on the part of the patient.
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Jill Konrath, President of Selling to Big Companies and Leapfrog-Strategies Inc., helps sellers create value, differentiation and demand in competitive markets. For info on speaking, training or consulting services, please call 651-429-1922 or email us at jill@sellingtobigcompanies.com.


 
 

Copyright 2006, Jill Konrath - (651) 429-1922