Tag Archives: innovation

Is a 90% failure rate in sales OK with you?

By Peter Krammer

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.

Today’s Specials – Sales Innovation – Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hearts in The Sales Cafe are all aflutter today, what with the release of the Bruce Springsteen Asbury Park Boardwalk Private Concert Video. Bruce is in fine form, hanging at the carousel in AP, NJ, playing songs to promote the release of the 2-CD “The Promise” and it’s been on the monitor all day here. It’s 30 minutes of rock ‘n roll and we like it. (Disclaimer:  Some of us here at The Sales Cafe are from New Jersey.)

In honor of “The Boss,” an innovator in music and marketing, Today’s Specials take a look at sales innovation. What does it take to be a sales innovator? Who’s innovative and how can we be more creative, unusual and even provocative in our quest for sales?

1. Innovation That’s ‘Born to Run.’ Here, Business Week contributors G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón argue “the promise” of innovation using Springsteen lyrics and song title examples. A little fanboy-ish, yes, but we love it anyway. What Would Bruce Do? they ask, and then describe how corporate leaders can emulate his resilience through triumph and failure.

2. Using an Outside-In Approach Transforms Business. We are huge proponents of taking an Outside-In approach to sales. Here’s a small example of how thinking outside(-in) the box can help an organization innovate in ways they never dreamed of.

3. The Technical Innovation Guaranteed to Double Your Sales Results. Sales guru S. Anthony Innarino offers a simple but revolutionary innovation and advice that really can change your life.

4. Have a Very Purple Holiday. Okay, so this last entry is more marketing than sales, but it’s timely and innovative and I’m sure those wise guys at Marketo have set up measures and means to track this campaign–integrated through email, the Web site and Twitter–down to every closed sale.

Today’s holiday clip comes from the classic movie, A Christmas Story. We triple dog dare you not to agree that this is one of the top ten scenes of any movie, any time.