Urgency: A Sales Lesson From the Far Side

By Jeff Beals

I was meeting with one of my coaching clients earlier this week, and he was lamenting that one of his top prospects wouldn’t call him back.  The prospect was a senior decision maker at large company.

As my client shared his frustrations, it reminded me of an old Far Side cartoon.  The Far Side was a syndicated, single-panel cartoon by Gary Larson that ran from 1980 to 1995.  I always loved Larson’s work.

At any rate, one of my favorite Far Side cartoons was captioned, “Same planet, different worlds.”

The cartoon panel is divided in half.  In the top frame, there is a man lying in bed staring at the ceiling with a thought bubble above his head that says, “I wonder if she knows I exist…Should I call her? Maybe she doesn’t even know I exist? Well, maybe she does…I’ll call her. No, wait…I’m not sure if she knows I exist. Dang!”

In the bottom frame, there’s a picture of a woman lying in bed staring at her ceiling with a thought bubble above her head: “You know, I think I really like vanilla.”

That cartoon cracks me up. Aside from aptly describing my teenage dating experience, it’s a metaphor for anyone who sells for a living.

As the cartoon so effectively illustrates, people have different priorities and different levels of urgency. As a sales professional, your level of urgency is often greater than that of your prospects.

Think about it. Your job depends on selling products or services.  You don’t get paid until you close a deal.  Because your livelihood depends on deal making, you have a vested interest in the process moving quickly and the purchase decision made promptly.

But your prospect could (and often does) have a very different timeline for a variety of reasons:

  • Your prospect might have to go through multiple layers of decision making inside his or her company
  • Your prospect might be considering additional options/vendors in addition to you and your offering.
  • In addition to making a decision on your proposed offering, your prospect has a hundred other things to worry about, some of which are more pressing and stressful.
  • Your prospect could be dealing with things in his or her personal life that take priority over a business decision, even an important business decision.
  • Your prospect’s “clock” might be different from yours.  Different people think and move at different speeds.  What’s “fast” to one person might be “slow to another.
  • Perhaps you haven’t done a good enough job of proving that your offering creates so much value that it deserves to be the prospect’s top priority.

If you find yourself in the sales equivalent of The Far Side cartoon, what should you do?

Stick to the basics.  Be persistent and focus on value-led messaging that focuses on the prospect’s outcomes.

When you discover exactly which part of your product or service most closely meets what the prospect most values at the time he or she most needs it, the prospect’s level of urgency suddenly will match and sometimes even exceed yours.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

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