Would you improve the odds in sales if you could? How much of an improvement in your prospect-to-close ratio would you be happy with?
When you sell for a living, failure – or rejection (choose your word, it doesn’t matter) – is the norm. One prospect in ten will eventually buy from you, possibly far less. That is a 90% failure rate – or rejection rate if that feels more comfortable. Your first boss told you this was normal during your first interview. Perhaps today you tell it to others without really questioning its validity.
No doubt about it, we salespeople spend a lot of our time grinding it out. Day in and day out, we throw ourselves at lists and leads, wherever they come from, hoping to get lucky. Some salespeople and sales managers call them suspects, and some fools even call them prospects. Do you think that the name on the card you collected at a networking event is really a potential customer? Until a real conversation begins, neither you nor the customer has a clue to whether they are a “suspect.”
Have you ever been to Las Vegas and heard a gambler say to the dealer, “Hey Tio, give me a break, I have kids to feed at home!” while jumping in for the next hand? Well, partner, many days that’s you. Only in this case, it’s real because very likely, you do have kids to feed at home and your boss will fire you if your bets don’t pay off.
If you really sell for a living, your work starts when a potential customer has identified a need for change brought on by dysfunctional processes, obsolete technology, and a host of other issues – some known, some unknown. If you have the customer’s trust and can help them discover the causes of their problems and the effects of solutions you offer, you’re on your way toward making a sale. That is, except when the customer doesn’t return calls, disappears for no apparent reason, inexplicably changes “the game,” or surprisingly buys from a competitor they hadn’t mentioned before. We’re not talking rejection here, we’re talking failure.
You can conservatively cut your failure rate in half just by changing how you work. This could lift your spirits, keep you from burning out or worse, keep the kids at home fed, and keep you employed (meaning your sales would increase).
Dirty Little Secrets by Sharon Drew Morgan is an explosive, and possibly even controversial, book that makes a clear and compelling case for why you need to change and how to get started. This isn’t a method book; change isn’t easy and you need to use your head. The author guides you on a journey to understanding the buyer’s world, their point of view, the people that influence them daily, and your role in that world. And you do have an important role to play. Morgan has broken the code on getting into the conversation much earlier in the “shopping process” than we salespeople are normally allowed to these days. This is done without asking you to become a political and strategic genius, a game manipulator, or a constant hero.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the book endorsed by Larry Wilson, the man who started the counselor selling movement 45 years ago that the author so sharply criticizes.
Want to know more? Are you ready to toss much of that rejection aside as somebody else’s problem? If so, buy this book for yourself this Christmas, and leave the gambling table to others.
You don’t really need to suffer in order to succeed at sales.