The TMI Trap


A trap in the jungle:
I wanted to start this blog citing a movie where someone gets lured into net or lasso in the jungle, and hung upside until rescued. As I started thinking about it, a number of movies blurred in my mind. Why do so many movies use this gag? Because it is true.

The sucker in the movie sees the object on the trail and is drawn to it. In the movies it seems to always be food or something valuable. How stupid you think as you see them propelled upward into the trap.

Why does this work? Because people’s self-centeredness thinks that what is open and available could be valuable to them. What they grab for deceives them, unfortunately. Its obvious to the natives setting the trap, and to the viewer, but the adventurer doesn’t have a clue until it is too late.

Traps in the sales jungle:
Prospects are just as astute as those natives. Those in active buying mode may call, even announcing that they are going to buy soon. They start asking a number of detailed questions about your company or product, or service. The trap has been set.

Oh, not me, you think. I’m not going to be trapped into losing this order because the customer doesn’t know enough. I’m going to answer his questions clearly and confidently. The phone call finishes and you pull up your CRM system to log all the exciting details and update your forecast.

You fool! Don’t you feel all the blood rushing to your head as you hang upside down? You should! You’ve just fallen for the TMI Trap.

The TMI Trap:
TMI in today’s slang is used to reference “too much information”. The prospect called looking for reasons to eliminate your product from their short-list. The questions they asked are about unique features of your product, but the prospect has already decided he doesn’t like those. He just wants to learn more to help him justify it to his boss.

The blood-rush comes when your hang up the phone and realize you’ve talked too much. Or realize the icy, yet rational tone of the conversation. Unfortunately, sometimes the blood-rush doesn’t come until you learn you’ve lost the sale.

Stay safe:
Once you’ve been caught in a trap a couple times, you learn to recognize it (hopefully). You walk around it warily, poke it with a stick until the trap is sprung and you are still on the ground. I wrote this because sometimes we can let our guard down and get trapped despite our previous experience. But that would never happen to me, would it? Would it?

12 Replies to “The TMI Trap”

  1. Good post! That’s very, very true in many industries. I think that’s why some of the information that would be helpful in the search engines about products and services might be TMI. As for me, when talking to people about SEM solutions, I always have to walk a very fine line between TMI and just enough info so my prospect knows that I know what I’m talking about! And yes, people have taken my recommendations and had other people do it.

  2. Good post! That’s very, very true in many industries. I think that’s why some of the information that would be helpful in the search engines about products and services might be TMI. As for me, when talking to people about SEM solutions, I always have to walk a very fine line between TMI and just enough info so my prospect knows that I know what I’m talking about! And yes, people have taken my recommendations and had other people do it.

  3. Great article, Dave. You are correct … if you are in sales, you’ve suffered from this particular foot-in-mouth disease, and yes, you would hope it would get better. However, unfortunately, it usually doesn’t.

  4. Great article, Dave. You are correct … if you are in sales, you’ve suffered from this particular foot-in-mouth disease, and yes, you would hope it would get better. However, unfortunately, it usually doesn’t.

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. I love it, ‘foot-in-mouth disease’!Ruby, I can definitely see how, as a ‘service’ provider, TMI has the additional risk of just giving away the store.

  6. Thanks for the comments, guys. I love it, ‘foot-in-mouth disease’!Ruby, I can definitely see how, as a ‘service’ provider, TMI has the additional risk of just giving away the store.

  7. Excellent post. Good to think about this in business discussions. It probably works both ways. Also the buyer needs to be careful not to give too much information away, especially in long-term relations with vendors, where there are regular contacts, and often via different people. The purchasing department would do good, in such case, to have a strategic buyer as an equivalent to the key account manager, to ensure control of the information flow.

  8. Excellent post. Good to think about this in business discussions. It probably works both ways. Also the buyer needs to be careful not to give too much information away, especially in long-term relations with vendors, where there are regular contacts, and often via different people. The purchasing department would do good, in such case, to have a strategic buyer as an equivalent to the key account manager, to ensure control of the information flow.

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