The Curse Of The Last Minute Merchant In Sales

I had the pleasure to sit next to a university lecturer once on a flight. A Project Management expert, no less.

I divulged my frustration at the last minute merchant.

Those fools who may have scaled vertiginous corporate levels, yet wrongly think their lack of time keeping and planning can become my crisis.

They wantonly leave anything until the last possible moment to act. The result being universally disastrous. Way worse than if a little, simple forethought were undertaken.

This disease can afflict co-worker, partner or prospect alike. And is a killer.

So what’s the cure?

My new chum felt that a cultural intervention was the only true solution.


In the absence of being able to perform such, she then suggested enlisting the help of a colleague of theirs. Specifically one in the project manager realm themselves.

I shuddered at the thought of this.

An associated trait of the ‘LMM’ is that they also never prepare.

So the concept of listening to someone in this vein struck me as highly unlikely. If your scourge hasn’t learned the trick by now, there’s no hope.

I once called a pre-meeting with someone selling alongside me, prone to this disrespect.

All it ended up doing was steal yet more of my precious time, as I felt I was doing all the prep, theirs and mine, for the both of us.

LMMs remind me of many a lawyer. You rock up to their office and they spend the initial, interminable minutes reading up on your issue. Whilst you sit across them in stunned silence.

I’ve railed against their like several times before (such as 2018, 2017 & 2015).

What is it that gets these debilitators getting something done ahead of time?

I used to think explaining that the quality of work significantly drops the nearer it’s completed to the deadline. But they feel immune to such outcome.

But there is one glint of light.

LMMs do not understand the value of process.

If you can cajole them into seeing the multitude of things that must be done to prevail on a bid, then you might stand half a chance.

Especially in the sense of getting them to actually make a start.

Yes, there’s all those social media deepsims of ‘your future self will thank you’, ‘imagine a year from now if you start today’ and ‘if not now, then when?’.

No effort to embark on an endeavour is surely ever a waste. The reaction of an artist to their very first brush stroke sets off all manner of chain reactions. Positive directions, discovery and destination all more likely to follow given chance to develop.

Work out what would constitute the smallest of starts on a task you want the lastminuter to undertake. Preferably with a subsequent path that would reveal itself towards completion. A kind of chunking, making progress easier and perceived as less onerous. And focus on that alone.

Provide a single piece of data. Take an initial call. Choose between a pair of This or Thats.

There’s even a recent bestseller on this (Atomic Habits) which brings to mainstream attention the previously devised “2-Minute Rule“. Whilst this relates to embarking on embedding a new behaviour which you hope to regularly repeat, the focus on scaling anything ‘new’ in the first instance down to a two-minute slice which gets you going is surely a winner. Duly prod your problematic person with such a ‘gateway task’.

It’s a small step, but often the hardest. Don’t tolerate anyone standing in the way of you and your target.

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