Do you see the two pictures? Here in New England, we get perhaps one day each year when we are fortunate enough to see how beautiful the world can appear when it is covered with freshly fallen snow against a back-drop of sun and blue sky. That was the case earlier this week. Ironically, just 9 hours later, the scene had changed dramatically, from one of beauty, to one of pure ugliness. The blue sky was replaced by clouds, the sun was hidden and the fresh snow had melted from the trees. Worst of all, the sand and salt that was applied to make the roads drivable and safe had turned those pretty white snow banks into brown and black crud. Yuck.
Of course, if you weren't looking at these two pictures, you would have no way of knowing that prior to the snowfall, the scene had also looked just like picture #2. Picture #1 was for show. Picture #2 was the reality of winter in New England.
Isn't that a lot like the sales calls your salespeople are conducting? Their prospects are very nice, say a lot of the right things, express interest in your offerings, request proposals, presentations and quotes, and promise to follow up. Your salespeople return all excited about what they perceive as picture #1. "It went great, they were very friendly, they liked me, and I think we're in a good position to get the business."
The reality is that if they had asked the appropriate questions, they would have discovered that the landscape looked much more like picture #2 - there was competition, an incumbent vendor, a decision maker who hadn't been identified, and the "interest" was to obtain pricing so that they could go back to their incumbent vendor, who they love, and leverage your pricing to get the incumbent to lower theirs.
Give your salespeople these two pictures and the next time they begin to think that everything seems wonderful, make sure they remember to brush the snow away, take off their rose colored glasses, and learn what the landscape truly looks like underneath the false interest.