Written by Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
Often, I spend time thinking about my successes and failures in sales. As any sales pro with self-awareness will share, I found there are many deals I won due to what I did or didn’t do. I don’t have data to determine what percentage of my deals were the direct result of my sales ability & skill, but just like the deals I lost, I am responsible for most of my “wins”. In other words, it was not just dumb luck, rather using processes and skills that I know work. Of course, there are many sales that were made because I was “in the right place at the right time” or regardless of me, my offering fit perfectly with the need of the client. However, these cases are the minority. Success in sales comes with hard work, not luck.
There is another classification of “wins”, other than skill based or luck; persistence. This category does not make up a huge number of my sales, but without it, it would have been impossible to achieve the results I have over my 20+ years of sales. I have found that there are 2 types of persistence that has helped shape my results: The “never give up” attitude on every sales call/meeting & the “never give up” on a client for the long run. Both types have the most important common denominator… NEVER GIVE UP!
Don’t accept “No” as an answer!
Most sales professionals are familiar with the adage, “you must go through large volumes of nos to get the one yes”. Unfortunately, most sales pros only apply this concept to the overall approach to selling and move from prospect to prospect until they get the “yes”. I will address that type of persistence shortly, but the missing ingredient is that typically we must navigate past multiple no’s ON A SINGLE CALL/MEETING to get to the yes! I have worked along with, managed and coached large numbers of salespeople throughout my career. I have found that less than 5% of those individuals truly apply the “never give up attitude” to every opportunity with a potential client. That 5% makes up the “closers” or top performers at every organization I have been a part of.
The key is understanding how to effectively understand & navigate the no’s to successfully get past them to the yes. Remember, not every prospect saying no will move to a yes, so don’t expect that as a result. However, if approached consistently, the number of wins will stack up quickly. Patience is crucial. Just because they are saying no, it does not mean they do not want to buy. Rather it must serve as an indicator that you have not yet uncovered and/or addressed their concerns. These concerns should not be met with a rebuttal intended to get a yes, as this comes across pushy or salsey. I prefer to ask questions, get conversational and help the prospect understand the value you offer and the solution to their problem. Discover if the motivation for the no is price, budget, solution, or experience driven. Once you uncover the underlying driver, it is easier to “dig in” to find a solution that makes sense. This is rarely accomplished with a slap in the face response. Show them you are genuinely interested in helping, not selling. Additionally, you must truly believe in what you are selling as a solution to their problem. If not, you come across as pushy as opposed to a passionately persistent consultant.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying
No sales pro closes every deal on a first call or meeting. This does not mean that you should move on to the next one and just forget about the work you have already done, and the energies already spent with this prospect. Some prospective buyers need to be nurtured and giving up on them removes the possibility to do business down the road. The ability to continue to pursue a goal or an outcome even when it is difficult, and even when it is going to take time and energy, is a critical component of success. This is especially true in sales, where often clients judge the seriousness of your attempt by your persistence over time and where giving up and going away is proof positive that you are not serious about earning their business and do not truly believe in what you are selling. If you give up and go away because things are difficult, what kind of statement do you think that makes? You don’t want to feel like a stalker, but persistence done correctly is not annoying or aggravating. Persistence is drive and motivation. Studies have shown that only about 2% of sales will close on the first meeting. That is a pretty low percentage. What that means, is that you need to continue to call on that prospective buyer. It is important to understand that there are many factors that may have been affecting the prospect when you first met. Perhaps it was financial strains, health issues, life stress, etc. Any number of factors may have prevented them from being a buyer on day one that no matter how hard you tried; a yes was off the radar.
Following up and persistence must be done with a purpose and process. Just making a call to “see if someone is ready” will not cut it. Make your follow ups with an objective to help. Offer to answer questions. Help them to compare other offers from a consultative and objective standpoint. Just drop them a quick email or call to let them know that you have not moved on and forgot about them. Send some helpful info or research. In other words, communicate. In the beginning this should be done with a schedule that is frequent and if needed, continue on a “drip” basis. Taking this approach will open opportunities that never would have existed simply because you took the time to show that you care and are interested in being the choice they make when they are ready to buy.
If your goal is long-term success, you must be persist to persist. Persistent on both fronts. Dig in with every prospect and when they do not buy on the first call or meeting, do not forget about them. Find creative ways to make contact and keep your name on the client’s mind. Never give up. Never let the first few refusals prevent you from increasing your sales opportunities and success. Achieving top level sales success takes drive, commitment and persistence.