Charlie Munger, the billionaire investor and Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, had some ideas on investing that apply to selling. He certainly was successful in investing. You can apply his ideas to selling and stop wasting your selling time.
What’s in your too-hard pile?
Munger knew what he didn’t know. He said, “Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.” As a result, he and Buffet created a “too-hard pile” of ideas that they just wouldn’t tackle.
There are prospects who you just can’t help. Do you know who they are? Perhaps you don’t understand their business because you aren’t selling to other customers like them. These unfamiliar businesses just might be too hard for you to sell to now.
Maybe you don’t know enough about their organizational structure to know where you might have an entry point where your ideas and products are welcome. Or perhaps you do know their organizational structure and know they have been loyal to their suppliers for many years and won’t consider a new supplier. Be cautious about spending time now because it will be just too hard to dislodge your competitors from their customers.
Remember that situations change, so too hard now might not be too hard at a later point.
Which prospects can you reject?
Munger also said, “Part of the reason I’ve been a little more successful than most people is I’m good at destroying my own best-loved ideas.”
Too many salespeople only look at the best possible outcome before they start to sell to their prospects. They prepare expensive proposals without thinking about why it’s worth their time to submit a proposal. This Pollyanna outlook means they’re going to waste valuable selling time on prospects that really aren’t worth it
Instead of thinking of why you should be selling to a prospect, consider why you should not sell to them now. What is the probability of your success? How could they take more of your limited resources (like time) and produce not enough result? Ask yourself if you know who could block your progress and stop the sale or if the outcome is already decided.
Consider how many competitors you are up against while you’re trying to sell to your prospects. Reject prospects where there are more than 3 competitors. do you seriously think you have a good chance of getting a new customer if you are up against 10 other suppliers?
Have strong reasons to bother with a proposal. You should if your proposal can strongly address the concerns of someone at your prospect who can say no to the deal. You are kidding yourself if you think a low probability deal is good use of your time.
Charlie Munger, for those who know his biography, certainly knew a lot about a lot of things. That knowledge certainly contributed to his being a billionaire. Being a billionaire doesn’t have to be your selling goal. Knowing enough not to waste your valuable selling time should be.