The Biggest Myth About Your Sales Prospects

It’s this, usually delivered by a boss who means well: “Everyone you talk to is a potential customer!”

Those of us who are responsible for generating new business are constantly looking for opportunities. All sales opportunities are not created equal.

Photo Credit: Dain Sandoval via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dain Sandoval via Compfight cc

The late Jeffrey Mayer, whom I hired as my sales coach a decade ago, taught me that sales is a business of disqualification. He insisted that the most successful salespeople eliminated the vast majority of the prospects they ran into, and only paid attention to the ones who fit specific criteria.

Mayer had a simple 3-part formula for disqualifying prospects:

  1. No Money = No Sale

  2. No Authority = No Sale

  3. No Need = No Sale

Too often, salespeople think — or are told by their managers — that “everyone can be your customer”. It’s simply not true.

  • Some clients can’t afford what you’re selling. Unless you are already independently wealthy, you want to work with people who are going to pay the bill.
  • Some people you meet with aren’t allowed to make purchasing decisions. You can deliver the best sales presentation in history, and all they’re going to do is spend a couple of minutes asking the boss if it’s okay. They can’t, and won’t, present your case nearly as well as you can.
  • Occasionally you run into someone who is already perfectly happy with things as they are. The easiest thing for them to do is whatever they’re already doing.

Everyone is not your customer. Figure out what criteria your clients need to meet to do business with you, and disqualify the people who don’t meet that criteria. Your time has value — don’t waste it on people who can’t buy, can’t pay, or aren’t interested.


Question: Have you ever spent months trying to sell a prospect, only to realize they were never going to buy no matter what you did?

When, and how, did you realize you were wasting your time? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



The “Reply All” Problem… Solved: Tech Tool Tuesday for Salespeople

Do you have a “Reply All” horror story? Have you ever realized, seconds after hitting “Send”, that your message was going to someone who really, really, really  shouldn’t get it?

Most of us have — Reply All is simultaneously a wonderful convenience and an easy way to damage your career by sending sensitive information to the wrong person.

Reply All Email Horror

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight cc

When one of my sons was in middle school, we had an extended email argument with the Vice Principal about a 7th grade teacher assignment. Eventually the Principal joined the email chain. Vice Principal got fed up with me and sent an extremely candid assessment of my personality to his boss.

Of course, he used Reply All to do it, and I received his colorful assessment in my inbox. Five minutes later, I received an abject apology… and the next day he caved in on the argument.

Although I benefited from that particular fiasco, I’ve been on the other side of that issue on several occasions, and often wished that there was a way to take an email back after sending it.

About three years ago I discovered the next best thing: Reply All Monitor by Sperry Software. It’s a $14.95 add-in for Outlook that pretty much does one thing: it warns you when you’re about to reply to everyone. That “one thing” can be a biggie.

For example: you get a group email from your manager, asking if everything’s okay with the Bainbridge account. You want to tell your boss, in confidence,  that one of your team members is a butt-head. You’re trying to multitask, and you hit Reply All by mistake.

That’s when Reply to All Monitor kicks into action:

"Hang on just a minute there, Hoss!"

“Hang on just a minute there, Hoss!”

Reply to All Monitor does a few more things as well: it will notify you when you are about to Reply All when you’ve been BCC’d (so that you don’t inadvertently give up your anonymity), and tip you off when you just hit “Reply” on a group email (in case you genuinely wanted to reply to everyone).

The big picture is this: it slows you down and makes you take one more step before you do something stupid. That one extra step has saved me from heartache and despair an average of three times a year since I bought it.

Question: What’s the worst message you ever sent, or received? Got a Reply All horror story? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The grand illusion of advertising – perpetuated by every seller of ads – is that your problem is #1: the right people haven’t heard about you.

But the painful truth is probably that the right people heard but didn’t care. — Roy Williams

Monday Morning Memo (Roy Williams, December 15, 2014)

Does Your Name Tell Your Story?

There are lots of ice cream store chains in the United States. But there’s only one Big Gay Ice Cream.

Doug Quint and his Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Photo Credit: *Bitch Cakes* via Compfight cc

The company began its existence in Manhattan as the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck in 2009, and quickly took off. There are now two shops in Manhattan, along with a “permanent pop-up” at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The web site indicates that more stores are planned for Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

As a marketing tool, the name has three important things going for it:

  • It is so far from the expected that it forces  people (i.e. potential customers) to pay attention.
  • It establishes a genuine point of differentiation. That differentiation doesn’t have to be the product itself to be significant, which is likely similar to ice cream you can buy elsewhere.
  • It implicitly accepts the risk that some people will be offended, and will refuse to buy ice cream from this truck because of the name. Owner Doug Quint is willing to sacrifice that business in return for a (presumably larger and more loyal) customer base that will seek him out. (For more on this concept, go here).

Question: What’s the most unusual name you’ve seen for a (reasonably mainstream) business? Please keep it PG-13 for a family readership. You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Tech Tool Tuesday for Salespeople: Smartphone Expense Apps

Have you got an expense account? That means keeping receipts, and turning them in once a month to someone who’d like you to be a little more organized.

accountant kitty is not amused

Photo Credit: apium via Compfight cc

When I was a radio Account Executive, my company’s business department required us to tape our receipts to an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and turn them in with a special form at the end of the month. It was a cumbersome process, and I left money on the table plenty of times by losing receipts. I am convinced that my company knew this, and saved millions of dollars a year on receipts that were never turned in.

For a salesperson, there are few worse feelings than finding a significant October receipt in January.

It’s a whole lot easier these days. As Brett Nuckles, the Tech Editor of Business News Daily put it not long ago,

That’s where your smartphone comes in. The right apps make it easy to manage your expenses on the go by taking advantage of your phone’s features, including the camera and GPS sensor.


The article lists seven expense-tracking apps for Android and iPhone. I’ve been using Expensify for about a year with very good results. As soon as I pay the check in a restaurant, I open the Expensify app on my phone and take a picture of the receipt. Expensify lets you file the receipts in virtual folders (when I wrote this post in Upstate New York,  all my receipts were going into a folder named “Utica 2″).

Expensify organizes all of the photocopies into an expense report, and does all the math for you. It’s a simple process to download the whole report into a pdf and email it to Accounting.

The app is free, and there are both free and paid versions of the service. Bells and whistles in the paid version include integration into things like Quickbooks.

Question: Have you got a tech tool that saves you time, money or hassle? Tell us about it! You can leave a comment by clicking here.