I’m embarrassed to admit this. I have some real prospecting problems. It’s embarrassing, I write about prospecting a lot, I speak, I coach people, we run prospecting workshops. But there’s a part of prospecting, I’m embarrassed to say, that I’m really horrible at.
I’m a terrible prospect.
It’s embarrassing. I’m supposed to be pretty good at this stuff, but I’ve discovered I’m probably one of the worst prospects around. I try to live up to my responsibilities as a prospect, but too consistently fail miserably.
Let me confess my inadequacies
- I ignore way too many emails. I realize sales people have gone through so much work. They have bought a list, somehow my name and email ends up on the list. That list could be 1000’s of others. And the poor sales person takes the time to have their email system send the 1000’s of us the exact same email. And I don’t take the time to respond. It doesn’t matter that it’s totally irrelevant to me. I feel bad, they’ve put in all the work to hit the “send” key on their emailing system. But I hope a few of the thousands of people they have sent the email to respond. After all, I feel so bad about these sales people that have tried so hard to connect.
- Those same sales people take a lot of time following up that email. They forward the original email to me, asking, “Did you get my email?” By that time, I’m too embarrassed. I did get it, I was just too lazy and inconsiderate to respond. I dig the hole deeper, hide my shame, hoping they notice I don’t respond.
- Inevitably, I’m caught. They send me another email. “Did you get the email I sent last week asking you if you got the email I sent you the previous week?” By this point, my irresponsibility and failure as a prospect comes crashing in on me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. They’ve caught me. They may have even read some of my blogs, where I provide “prospecting” advice. I feel I’m such a phony, I want to crawl under my desk.
- Sometimes, though, I live up to my responsibility as a prospect. I respond to the email. Inevitably, I get that part wrong, as well. Selfishly, I had thought being a prospect made things about me. So when I respond, I ask about things that concern me. I am ashamed at being so selfish–but usually the sales person is good in overlooking my selfishness. They ignore the things I am interested in, suggesting we schedule a demo so they can tell me all about what their product does. I realize, if I let them do this, later on I can figure out how it solves my problems. I am so grateful to those sales people that let my self interests about my business pass. I’m grateful they ignore my bad buying behavior and just pitch their product. Kindly, they ignore this behavior and let me save face.
- I am learning that I a make another terrible mistake as a prospect. I don’t follow instructions. My usual response is to ask a few questions about how a product might solve my problems. I never get a response. Then I realize it was a bot that sent me the original email. I’m humbled to learn that bots can’t respond to questions, and I’m ashamed to have a sales person invest time in responding. I worry about my bad buying behavior then realize, “Dave, you are such an idiot!!!! The email said you have to schedule a meeting on Calendy!” Sheepishly, I realize I am wasting the sales person’s time, time that they are using Calendy to manage so efficiently. I go to Calendy, hoping they haven’t noticed that I haven’t followed their instruction. I see at Calendy, they have allocated 15 minute blocks of time that are convenient for them to talk. I worry that I might screw things up for them. What if I asked a couple of questions that caused the meeting to take 16 or 17 minutes? I’d totally screw up their calendar. I select a time, writing a note to myself, “Don’t ask too many questions, you only have 15 minutes. Make sure not to waste the sales person’s time.” I select a time, then I’m asked for a reason for the conversation. I worry, “How do I justify their investing 15 minutes in their time to sell something to me?” I try to display some humility in my response, “Can I please take 15 minutes of your time so you can sell something to me?” I press the enter key, hoping the sales person would find that reason good enough to take the time to sell me something.
I have to confess, fulfilling my responsibilities as a good prospect is really stressful. I’m starting to lose sleep. I worry what sales people might think of me—or even what the bots think of me. After all they are investing all this time in sending email after email; in leaving phone message after phone message. I’m feeling like I’m such a failure, but somehow, I just don’t get things right.
I worry that I will just never be a good prospect. I suppose I’m too selfish and self centered, foolishly thinking of my needs rather than the sales people who work so hard in deluging me with emails.
At this point, I’m just worried, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I’m throwing up my hands and giving up. I just will never be able to live up to my responsibilities as a prospect.
I’m sorry to those 100’s of sales people that send thousands of emails to me. I just can’t live up to my responsibilities, and I feel so guilty about wasting your time. Sadly, I have to admit I am weak, I’m a failure at this part of prospecting.
I don’t want you to waste your time, I will just fail you. Perhaps the best thing is for you just to ignore me. Stop investing your valuable time in trying to engage me, I will always fail you.
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