As Seen in Builder Architect Magazine

Ok, so what’s the pounce? A natural question considering the title. Simply stated the Pounce is part of a collection of sales errors I refer to as, “The sales pitfalls”. To illustrate the Pounce pitfall, I want you to imagine us together on an African Safari. From the safety of our jeep we see a herd of gazelles and a pride of lions. First we turn our attention to a group of lion cubs frolicking about practicing their pouncing and stalking techniques. Next we observe a real hunting party of lionesses. We notice some subtle yet vast differences in their hunting technique. The cubs seem to spend a lot of time pouncing, while mother, the real pro, spends most of her time stalking.

This is a very delicate game of cat and mouse so to speak, one that has evolved over thousands of years. Similarly, the sales game has some contrasting similarities and evolutionary traits of its own. I’d like you to think of our lion as salesperson and our prospect as a gazelle for our discussion. The problem with the lion cubs hunting technique is that they never get close enough to the gazelle to actually catch one. They pounce too soon. The pouncing salesperson has the prospect weary, guarded and on the move well before the prospect is close enough to buy. The pro is patient and deliberate about their stalking efforts. Never pouncing or asking for the order before the prospect is close enough to a “yes.”

Here is a quick example of how the pounce gets your prospect moving away for you.

Prospect says:

I really like the (XYZ Feature)!

Sales cub:

Great, shall I write it up?

This is the question your prospect is looking to avoid. Anytime you make an attempt to capitalize on a positive comment your customer makes regarding your product or service you risk pushing them away. Hence, the essence of the pounce. This is why effective stalking is more important than pouncing.

Like in nature, sales has evolved. The gazelle is aware that a lion is a predator and similarly in a manner of speaking, your prospect is on to this as well. Listen; if you were a gazelle and every time you walked past a particular bush, a lion pounced at you would you keep walking by that bush? Of course not. And your prospect is no different. If you pounce on them each time they make a positive comment, they are going to stop making positive comments. If you’re still under the impression that it takes seven no’s to get to a yes, give it up already. I know some sales trainers are still teaching it, crazy as it sounds. I guess they don’t know the modern day consumer figured this out 20 years ago.

Being in your sales role is like being on safari, be patient, let the conversation evolve making your prospect comfortable. When they make a positive comment, in the form of a question just say, “Oh?” This will allow them to expand on why and exactly what they liked. Facilitate their thoughts but don’t pounce every time you see a gazelle off in the distance. The key to sales success is to get your prospect to sell themselves. There’s nothing worse than a hungry lion to get your prospect running in the other direction.

In nature, instincts are responsible for survival of both the gazelle and the lion: for the gazelle to be wary and the lion to be patient. The lion cub learns patience as it is not a natural characteristic. Likewise, you’ve been conditioned to go for the sale, so when you see a chance it’s only natural that you strike. From now on, I’d like for you to think of your sales career as a great adventure always learning and evaluating what you’ve seen. Be patient, listen to your prospects and customers. So, the next time you are on safari, take notice and remember that survival in sales means avoiding the pounce.


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