Here is a real conversation I had with a distributor client’s salesperson this month:

Salesperson: “I keep thinking of this one customer who promised me new business, but I’ve never seen it. He must have a better relationship with our competitor down the street than he does with us.”

Me: “When did he promise more business?”

Salesperson: “Oh, years ago.”

Me: “When is the last time you asked him for more business?”

Salesperson: “It has been two or three years since I approached him in getting his business over here.”

Me: “Interesting. And how often do you think about this customer, and doing more with him?”

Salesperson: “Oh, I think about him a couple of times a week!”

Just pause here and let all this sink in.

This salesperson has been with the company for decades.

Many years ago a customer promised him more business.

The last time the salesperson asked about this business was years ago.

But he thinks about the customer every few days!

He wants the business all the time, but he doesn’t do anything about getting it.

Some thoughts about this dramatic story:

  1. This is not uncommon. In fact, it’s kind of normal in the sales profession. Wanting the business is safer than asking for it because you can’t get actively rejected for wanting. Instead, it’s a long, drawn-out, years-long passive rejection in this example.
  2. As a result, it’s really to stand out from the crowd of salespeople avoiding selling action.
  3. If the competitor asked this customer about additional business just twice a year, they would have been 500% more proactive than this salesperson.
  4. Be careful confusing thinking about doing something with actually doing it. It’s surprisingly easy to conflate the two.
  5. That’s because thinking about doing something and avoiding it once takes a similar amount of mental energy as actually doing the thing. We feel like we did it because it’s tiring to think and avoid.
  6. In fact, procrastinating over long periods of time — avoiding action and agonizing over it multiple times for months and years — actually uses exponentially more energy than simply taking the action once.

What sales activity have you been avoiding for a long time?

What communication have you been putting off?

Can you take that action today?

It will probably only take a few minutes, and you’ll free your mind of it forever.

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