Persistence is defined as, “Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty, fatigue, frustration, or opposition.” Because there is a point when return on the investment of energy, time and resources diminish, and the loss of other potential sales can be high, how long is long enough to pursue a prospect? Start by reviewing your qualification process. Have you documented evidence of their stated reasons of need? Have you identified their internal decision process, their criteria for making a decision, and all involved decision makers? Has there been a discussion of the investment required, and the prospect’s ability and willingness to make the investment if they ‘believe’ in your solution or product? If something is missing, go back and get the answers. If all are in place and you continue to receive stalls, think it over; it is probably time to take them to a ‘no’ decision and move on.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Prospects have antennas that are always on alert, enabling them to pick up any sign of wavering confidence in an instant. Without confidence your success will be limited. Two ways to build confidence are using courage and reviewing past experiences. Courage means moving forward in the face of fear or doubt. Confidence is the result of successfully overcoming obstacles. Second, you have a history of past successes. Create a personal fuzzy file containing records of achievements, rewards, accolades, prizes and past successes. Reviewing these can help you reclaim confidence and belief in yourself. You must first believe in yourself before the prospect will believe in you or your offering.
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
The result of negative self-talk is increasing self-doubt and diminishing confidence. Listen to what you are telling yourself. Immediately stop saying to yourself things such as, “I can’t do this,” “I am not good at this,” or “I am in the wrong career”, etc. Another destructive form of negative self-talk is “I should” and “I need to” because they are not solid commitments for change or moving forward. Keep your self-talk positive and in the present tense. For example, say, “I am good at finding new opportunities,” “I am capable of making up my shortfall,” or “my technique is improving.” Another way to accomplish positive self-talk is by asking yourself ‘why’ questions. “Why am I getting better at prospecting?” or “Why do I have such a good territory?” These strategies will keep your subconscious from fighting you. Your mind is like software. You have to program and direct it. Remember that even with the right programming you still have to take action.
“Our best friend and our worst enemy reside within us. Unfortunately, most of us access the latter far more often than the former.” – Maddy Malhotra
Universalizing is an internal thinking pattern that turns an isolated incidence into a general rule. Every prospect doesn’t buy from you, love you, or treat you with courtesy, much less keep their word. When you have a negative personal experience, it is easy to project that experience into the future. You would not assume all people behave alike, so avoid assuming one experience is typical of all. Just because one person is rude does not mean everyone will be rude. Keep negative events in perspective. Beware of the way you talk to yourself and eliminate the use of all-inclusive words like, “everyone,” “always,” and “never.”
“It is a universal principle that you get more of what you think about, talk about, and feel strongly about.” - Jack Canfield
Saying or thinking, “It is the market,” or “My territory has no potential,” or “Our prices are too high,” are examples of externalizing. Blaming outside conditions or others is not the answer. Taking personal responsibility is the first step in getting out of this trap. Repeatedly thinking such thoughts becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Break the cycle by writing down any solid evidence you have regarding such claims. Observe if others are being successful with the same challenges. Ask yourself, “Do I have competitors who sell for more or who have the same market and are still successful?” Chances are high that you will find little or no evidence to support externalizing.
“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley
Even sellers generally have more buying experiences than selling experiences. Unfortunately, everyone experiences the hawker on the phone or in the buying clubs who mistakenly believes everyone is a prospect for their offerings.
In addition, they can’t wait to tell you all about them, even before they know if you need them or are willing and able to pay for them. It is easy to fall into the same incorrect belief that, “If they (the prospect) understand the product as well as I do, they will want it too.” Remember you will always get more rejection when trying to sell too soon. Real pros know how to engage with questions and other techniques to help prospects discover how much more they need their offering than initially realized. Uncovering and developing need is the real key to sales success.
“Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.” — Harvey Mackay
Sellers with smaller geographic areas may tend to dismiss the importance of planning weeks ahead. Here are three reasons to organize your prospects and clients into a consistent workflow.
First, by assigning prospects and customers into a four-week geographic or zip code rotation, stress is reduced, daily, and weekly goals and priorities become clear.
Second, you will reduce the length of your sales cycle. If it takes three calls on average to close a sale, theoretically seeing someone once a week means a three-week sales cycle. However factor in meetings, conflicts, vacations, and other interruptions and three weeks becomes three months. Without a consistent rotation or call cycle three months can become six or eight months, assuming you remember to follow up.
Third, you will be more productive. You cannot manage time, but you can learn to manage the events the come in and out of your daily activities. Without a plan, someone else will engage you and you will be working on his or her goals instead of your own. It makes it easier to say, “I can’t today, but I can help you tomorrow (or next week).”
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
― Yogi Berra
The internet is a prolific source of information with content-rich web sites and customer forums. The result is better informed customers and buyers. When selling face to face do not assume that your ‘value proposition’ is the right one for your prospect. If the buyer is in the ‘evaluation of options’ phase of their buying process, chances are good they already know a lot about your offering. Be careful spewing all your benefits; what you think is of value may not be the prospect’s view. If the prospect’s view is different from yours, chances are good you will create a cost objection. To create real value help your prospect prevent problems they do not see coming and clarify problems they do not see clearly. Both require getting information instead of giving information.
“Information is the seed for an idea, and only grows when it is watered.”
– Heinz B Bergen
Giving a presentation does not mean that the prospect cannot talk, give input or feedback. In fact, a great presentation includes interaction with the prospect. Talking too much is the prevalent disease of salespeople. You may have experienced the overly enthusiastic salesperson whose efforts provoked your ears to beg for a rest. That is not a memory that sets the stage for a receptive followup call. Check in with your prospect, and ask for feedback on individual points you make. It may be surprising to learn that the prospect may not share the same view of your perceived benefits. Involve and resolve is a good principle to remember. The chance to make a sale increases exponentially as long as the prospect is still talking with you.
“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” - Bernard Baruch
Common advice recommends eating an elephant, one bite at a time. It takes a focused and consistent effort to eat an elephant. Similarly, creating new business, whether you do it by cold calling, networking, marketing, referrals or another method requires focus and consistency. It is better to make two or three calls a day, than to make ten or fifteen calls once a week. Amateurs make calls one afternoon and then say, “This doesn’t work!” Professionals know that consistent effort over time is what produces results. One day might produce no leads, but the next day will produce three or four. Try prospecting early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Some studies suggest that Wednesday and Thursdays tend to generate the best success. If you do a lot of networking, arrive early and check the registration list, and then look to meet those people who might be a potential prospect. Look at your calendar of appointments this coming week. Do you have a plan to approach those already in your calendar for a referral?
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” – Anthony Robbins