Don’t Go Into the Woods!

Horror Stories from the Sales Field

By David Yesford(傅大卫)

It is a damp night, fog rolling in. A wolf howls as eerie music plays in the background. A woman appears, blood on her hands. Alone and scared, she stumbles out of the house and down creaky stairs, looking out across a wide yard. At the edge of the yard is a dark entrance to the woods. The woman looks around, then heads slowly toward the woods.

If you are sitting in the movie theater, what are you saying to yourself, maybe even yelling at the screen? “Don’t go . . . Don’t go into the woods!”

Now picture this: Alex is pursuing an opportunity. In several discovery meetings, Alex gains a lot of information, but not much understanding. The actual problem is not clearly defined. There is no evidence the project is strategic to the company. One contact says there is funding; another says there is no funding. Priorities seem to change with every conversation. What will Alex do?

“Don’t go . . . Don’t go into the woods!” Many times, the signs are as clear as a cheesy horror movie. You should really rethink your decision to continue, but the reality is that most salespeople will continue to pursue the opportunity because of the time and effort already invested.

How do you decide to pursue the right opportunity? It is actually quite simple to say, but hard to do.

Three Questions to Ask:

Will the customer buy?

The signs are usually clear. Is there strategic importance, a compelling event, or a budget? Without these three things, it is just an entry into a dark woods.

Will the business, if won, be good for my company and me?

Salespeople tend to focus on the time and resources already invested when they should be focused on the costs to deliver and support the sale. If this has potential at becoming the “customer I wish I hadn’t gotten,” then rethink entering the woods.

Finally, will the customer buy from me?

The question is not will they buy, but will they buy from you? Is a competitor better aligned with the customer on value? Is there a competitor with an inside tract? Are you offering a clear competitive advantage? If not, that dark entry to the woods may just be a dead end.

Consider each question in order. If you don’t know the answer, find out. But if there is compelling evidence that the answer is no, then don’t do it . . . Don’t go into the woods!


David Yesford(傅大卫)

作为Wilson Learning 全球资深副总裁、亚太地区董事总经理,傅大卫有着30多年在全球范围内发展和实施人力绩效解决方案的经验。 傅大卫先生总能以其宝贵经验、策略方向和全球视角为客户和团队带来价值。多年来,他在Wilson Learning的核心领域——销售、领导力、e-learning和策略咨询业务上扮演着重要的角色。

傅大卫先生是多部书籍的合著者,其中包括《双赢销售》(Win-Win Selling),《灵活多变的销售人员》(Versatile Selling),《社交风格手册》(Social Styles Handbook),《销售培训2》(Traning Book 2)等。并在美国、欧洲、拉丁美洲、亚太地区的商业出版物中发表了多篇文章。他经常被邀请在国际性会议上做有关销售、领导力、员工和客户参与度提升、品牌和战略实施的演讲。