Show Up and Throw Up

This post addresses a common problem exhibited by new and untrained salespeople.  I first encountered this many years ago when a distributor of manufacturing supplies called on me.  He came into my office, we exchanged some pleasantries and he pulled out what had to be 200 page catalog.  He then turned the catalog around – facing me – began turning pages saying “stop me when you see something you want to buy.” It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true.

Today’s version of this exercise has become known as “show up and throw up”.  Somewhat indelicate, but descriptive.  Too often salespeople get caught up in enthusiastically describing everything they can do for a prospective client. They cannot stop talking.  The problem is that it demonstrates a laziness and unprofessional attempt at sales.

It’s lazy because the salesperson didn’t bother to ask enough questions to uncover what the prospect wanted.  An appointment was granted because the prospect thought it worth his time to talk to the salesperson.  The salesperson then did all the talking and failed to find out where his prospect’s interest was in his company.  I once witnessed a new salesperson so intent on telling the prospect everything he could offer he totally missed the prospect saying “I’m interested in that product”.  The salesperson left without an order.

It’s unprofessional because the salesperson doesn’t recognize the value of the time the prospect has given salesperson to hopefully solve their problem.  Today prospects have a good idea you can solve their problem before they agree to talk to you (in person or Zoom).  A good way to begin a conversation is to ask how you can help the prospect.  Then, keep quiet and let them describe their problem.  When they stop ask follow up questions for clarity.  When your prospect is talking and you are listening you are also learning.  That’s a good thing.

A good rule of thumb is talk 30% of the time and listen 70% of the time.  Your prospect wants to know if you can solve her problem.  She probably doesn’t care what other products or services you offer.  If she wants to know she will ask.  Don’t distract your prospect with data they don’t care about.

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