The definition of Hopeium is: “the irrational belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary, things will turn out for the best.” It’s a term that has made its way around society but is particularly relevant to the world of sales. Since sales people must stay positive and optimistic in the face of daily rejection and challenges, it’s only natural for them to interpret a prospects lukewarm response as “hopeful”. Rather than hearing the early “no” from the prospect, the salesperson drags on a deal in “hope” of it turning out for the best. Instead of truly qualifying prospects, Hopeium sets in.
How to Kick the Habit
Sandler Training teaches what they refer to as an “Up Front Contract” (UFC) that clarifies an understanding between the Sales Rep and Prospect at the very beginning of the initial dialogue which prevents Hopeium from grabbing hold of the Rep. As one of many elements of the UFC, possible outcomes of the first meeting are agreed upon. The initial dialogue might go something like this …
Sales Rep: “There are a few possible outcomes to our meeting today. First, I may let you know that I am not the best solution to fit your need. If this happens, are you OK with it?”
Sales Rep: “Great. There are just two possible decisions that you could make. First, you might say “yes”, which means that you will accept my phone calls and emails regarding our next step together in fulfilling your needs. Or, you might say “no” in which case means that I am not right for you and your challenge. We shake hands and walk away friends. However, there is no “I need to think it over”. The last thing I want to do is to chase after you and be a bother. Both of our time is much too valuable for that. Agreed?”
Prospect: “Sure, I understand”
Not only does this eliminate the onset of Hopeium, because you will not follow-up with a “no” response, but it will help to focus the Prospect’s attention during the meeting. Most importantly though, it frees you up to continue your search for another qualified Prospect who has a true need for your services. Keep this phrase in mind, “An early no is better than a late no.”
Take a closer look at your Pipeline (or maybe you don’t really have to) to determine which prospects could be categorized under Hopeium. How many more times will you follow up with phone calls and emails, drop by in person, deliver samples, present quotes, or hold teleconferences to people who “keep thinking it over?” It’s probably time to break the Hopeium habit and begin truly qualifying prospects?