Ouch! I really stubbed my toe that time! Yes, even great salespeople make mistakes along the way to getting the order. And we learn from our mistakes. Sometimes even recover enough to get the sale. The good news is if you are making mistakes you are for sure out there creating opportunities for buyers to place orders with you.
It’s A Numbers Game
The more sales calls you make the more likely you will fail to get the order. It’s the very rare sales team who wins 100% of their sales pursuits. Set activity goals and track your success. How many appointment setting calls did you make? How many appointments did you get? From those appointments how many sales resulted? If your closing ratio is 50% then only half of the sales you attempted led to an order. Your challenge great salesperson is to learn why an attempt to close failed.
Own The Poor Performance
Just suck it up. It’s all your fault that the buyer didn’t give you the order. Take responsibility for your failure. Once upon a time when I was new to selling I lost an order that should have been mine. I was selling safety products. One day I called on a safety manager who needed five ventilation fans at a papermill where I was trying to unseat a competitor. He had a proposal from my competitor. I knew for five fans I could get a 20% discount from the manufacturer. So I presented a quote for the lower price. The safety manager sent my proposal to the buyer and asked her to place the order. A few days passed and I didn’t hear anything so I called the safety manager. He passed me to the buyer who said: “Oh, I gave your competitor a chance to match your price and they did. So I placed the order with them. Wouldn’t you have liked the same treatment if the situation was reversed?” All my fault! I failed to understand the whole buying process and include the buyer in my sales pursuit. A hard lesson learned. Great salespeople take ownership of their poor performance.
Sometimes You Can Fix It
In hindsight I wish I had said to the buyer something like: “You rewarded the vendor who was going to charge you 20% more until I came along. How is that fair to me?” But I didn’t and it probably wouldn’t have worked in this case anyway. When you have the courage to own your mistakes then often the buyer will give you another chance. Just call the buyer and admit your mistake. Ask for a do-over. Often great salespeople get the chance to continue the sales pursuit. How you handle failure will control how you succeed in selling. So learn from the mistakes you make and keep on going.
Selling Is A Team Activity
When you fail it affects others. Just as when you win the big one. Share the failure experience with your team. Why did you fail? What will you do differently next time? Maybe it was a poor choice of prospect. Or the solution you proposed didn’t fit the prospects problem. Perhaps you didn’t understand the budget so your solution didn’t meet the budget. Or like me in the example above you didn’t find out how and who made the buying decisions. It sometimes happen that another person on your team has a better rapport with the buyer so give them a shot at closing the deal. Great salespeople are always challenged to put the buyer’s needs above their own. When they do it well they win. If they don’t they create an opportunity to learn from poor performance.
What You Can Do Right Now To Recover From Poor Performance
- Set an activity goal and monitor success and failure
- Learn from your mistakes and help others not to make them
- Take responsibility for your failures
- Ask for do-overs
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Seven, Understanding Buyer Behavior, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales encouragement, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.