There is unique anxiety and stress that comes with working in a sales position. Sales is a career choice that involves accepting the rapid and undeniable evidence of progress, or lack thereof, in achieving goals. You have a spotlight on you most of the time.
While almost all jobs have KPI’s, the sales world offers a far quicker feedback loop. If you work in HR, accounting, PR, marketing or operations, you will be judged rapidly only if something goes seriously wrong. Aside from critical mistakes and catastrophes, you are judged on a much longer time scale. If you are in sales, however, you are often judged monthly, or even on weekly pacing towards the sales goal.
That means that to be successful in sales, you need to be very self aware and lucid about your pipeline. I would even go further and state that you need to be lucid, leaning skeptical about every prospect. You need to embrace the truth, truth as so well defined by the author Augusten Burroughs:
“Truth is unassailable fact. Not your opinion of the fact. Nor is truth your report of the events from your own uniquely distorted and biased view, where there could be a disco ball hanging in the way blocking the most important element.”
You need to know why the people who did not buy (or are “thinking about it” only to later not buy) are not buying. Knowing this allows you to adjust behavior and improve results, and get off the merry go round of chasing the end of the month stress.
Missed sales usually come down to a few common failures:
1 – You did not establish trust. There was no connection of trust between you and the prospect. Trust is typically almost half the buying decision.
2 – You did not create value. Either there is a problem that needs to be fixed or there isn’t. If there is a problem, you either are able to establish the value for the fix you are selling, or you are not. Dropping price does not equate to creating value. A man with no feet isn’t buying shoes because you drop the price by 25%. A woman who is a vegetarian isn’t buying your chicken because it’s free range and corn fed.
3 – You did not align beliefs. Your prospect must believe what you believe about specific business realities that apply. That common belief fuels both trust and value. A man who doesn’t believe he has feet or needs to walk around likely isn’t buying shoes either. A woman who doesn’t believe in eating meat is not going to seriously consider buying chicken.
4 – You are not paying attention. Your awareness of the situation isn’t perceptive or accurate enough to determine which one of the previous points are in play. You are talking but not listening or watching. You are a walking/talking brochure. That’s marketing, not sales. Sales professionals LISTEN far more than they talk.
5 – There actually isn’t any need. Show me someone who thinks everyone needs his product or service and I’ll show you someone who’s buying his own BS. No product or service is applicable or useful to 100% of prospects. If you are not paying attention, you continue to view these clients as prospects. A man without feet doesn’t NEED shoes, should not be buying them, and most of all, YOU SHOULD NOT BE SELLING THEM TO HIM!
If you want to free yourself from the stress of sales, try the following steps:
– Find and use a deliberate, scientifically based sales process to establish trust with your prospects. Don’t wing it on your calls.
– Reverse the intent of your prospecting. Look to disqualify prospects as part of your process. Your time is limited, you need to spend it on qualified prospects who have confirmed common ground thinking around the core business issues.
– Identify and define the core common business issues and beliefs necessary to see the value in your product or service. Be specific, and make sure these are discussed in discovery.
– Be skeptical about your pipeline. Push the “maybes” to “no” (in order to get some “yeahs”). Pushing for Yes is “Closing” and based on pressure. Pushing for a decision (Yes or No) is ethical, professional, and ultimately respectful of your time, and your prospect’s time.
The first battle is always in the mind, in accepting the truth of the situation and adjusting your behavior to match the situation.
One thing remains certain. Sales, like any other professional career, does not allow success to those who wing it. Mindset, Awareness, Planning, Process and Execution are essential to success.