Triage

This curve is logarithmic (e2). It grows in the positive direction slowly, ever increasing towards infinity while rapidly decreasing to a negative infinity in the negative direction. Log curves can graphically illustrate the concept of triage.

This is a word usually applied to life-and-death situations, as on a battlefield, where the injured are divided into three groups:

1. Those mortally wounded can’t be saved regardless or at a reasonable expenditure of resources. They are going to die fast and investing resources to save them will cost other lives that can still be saved. The curve diving down to negative infinity when going backwards (negative direction) is analogous to this.

2. Those not in any immediate peril and can wait for treatment. This would be shown as the curve crossing the x-axis at zero.

3. Those in less dire conditions can be saved if treated fast. They are the first to receive limited resources and the most is gained by that decision. The more individuals in this category treated, the more the immediate gain. This can be shown as the curve steadily increasing upwards in the positive direction.

Triage is thus seen as a ruthlessly efficient process. To prove this, let’s look at the decision most civilians would make,in an attempt to be fair or nice….

Applied to sales, triage can maximize your sales volume in the shortest possible time. One can see that bad techniques lead to near-instantaneous defeat… lost sales. Better techniques gradually lead to increased sales. Again, bad ideas lead to instant death (stepping out in from of a moving bus) while good things add up to more and more success.

By eliminating “fatal” sales techniques one can break even but not prosper. By adopting positive techniques one can become proficient and then expert with steadily increasing income. One would triage techniques into obviously good (do more), obviously bad (stop doing them), and unpredictable or unknown (find out in a controlled manner).

Triage can also be applied to prospecting. Some prospects are obviously good, some obviously bad, and some unpredictable. By not calling on the bad prospects one does not squander precious time that could have been invested with good prospects. Unless one has contacted all the best prospects, it does not make sense to call on unpredictable marginal ones, let alone the blatantly bad ones. If you can’t classify prospects in advance, through past experience, then the most productive approach will be to quickly sort them out and proceed as described above spending time only with the highest probability prospects.

Skimming the entire territory is the best bet to maximize sales in the shortest possible time. Contact each prospect and quickly introduce your product and gauge reactions. If immediately interested they are high-probability prospects. If negative or won’t listen, low-probability. If only somewhat interested or noncommittal, unpredictable.

If one is confined to a territory with limited prospects, and instructed to call on all of them, the rep, acting in her own self-interest would apply the triage process, sell the best prospects first, and then quit. The company employing that rep will find it best to do lead-generation to sort through the unpredictable prospects, do more and better marketing or product development, and allow larger territories to expand the opportunity and retain the rep.