In the 2008 Olympics, Michael Phelps won the gold medal in the men’s 100m butterfly beating out Milorad Cavic by a mere 0.01 second. Literally, in the 1/30th time it takes to blink, Phelps’s dreams were realised and Cavic’s dreams were dashed.
Over the course of a sales person’s lifetime, it’s inevitable that you will face this same struggle. You will be told no, be rebuffed, and even be harshly rejected due to the difference between you and your competitor over what may seem to be a minor or even trivial difference.
The difference is that Cavic at least won the silver medal and has something to place on his mantle for future generations of Cavic family members to view, awe, and admire. In your struggle to win sales, when you earn second place, you get nothing…nada…the big goose egg…and it’s possible that once that client is locked up with your competing vendor, they may never relinquish that relationship and that relationship may never come up for bid again.
So, how do you avoid this harsh reality and always finish first? The truth is you can’t.
It’s time to build what Kendall Colman calls your “rejection muscle” because it’s going to happen. In fact, in the sales world, you will likely find that you will be told “no” way more often than not. Even if you have a relatively high closing ratio of 20-30 per cent, this means that you are being told “no” 70-80 per cent of the time.
Read more about coping with rejection:
- Rejection from JP Morgan spurred one economics graduate to start his own venture
- Four Dragons’ Den rejects that have become huge success stories
- If we can remove fear of funding rejection, we can release the brakes on the UK economy
Now that you are comfortable with the fact that you are going to be told “no,” it’s time to consider some ways to handle this rejection:
(1) Understand that “no” is not negative, it’s only feedback. Life is Neutral. The only one who is placing a label on this event is you.
(2) Labels are sticky: Once a rejection occurs, it’s easy to move the label from the event to then labelling ourselves by saying: “I suck…I am a terrible sales person… I am such a loser… Why would anyone buy from me?” Breathe and stop with the labels. Instead interrupt that thinking with “It’s just experience.”
(3) Reflection is not just a three syllable word: Most sales people make the same mistakes over and over again because they never ask themselves or their customers what they could have done differently. Prospects when asked many times will be incredibly open with you about the reasons why they chose a competitor.
(4) Embrace being #2: We once visited a coffee roaster who said, “Our Company likes being #2. We know that our competitor’s best clients are just one mistake away from calling us.” Never burn a bridge…keep in contact (but avoid the “just checking-in call”), keep visiting via networking events and act as a resource broker.
(5) Be a resource broker: Want the fastest way to become #1? Send your prospect “a trickle” of contacts that they need to know either personally or professionally. Almost guaranteed no one else is doing this!
(6) Realise you are not the Godfather: In the movie, The Godfather Part II, Michael Corleone famously mumbles, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Remember, the workplace is not the mafia. Make friends with your competitors. This may go against every dog-eat-dog, business-world, spidey-sense you have, but remember, your competitors are just like you.
At times, they are overwhelmed, not every customer fits their business model, they need the help of outside expertise, and who knows, they may even be in need of a sub-contractor from time to time. And if they don’t know, like, and trust you, they won’t call you.
So here’s the point, remember that when you say “yes” to one customer, you are saying “no” to ten other possible customers. Yes, there are customers you consider whales or elephants, but ultimately, our global economy is built with literally more possibilities than you could pursue in 100 lifetimes. According to a Dun and Bradstreet article from 2013, there were 235m companies across 200 countries of the world. Based on the five rejections you received today, you only have 234,999,995 more companies to go.The possibilities are limitless.
Remember, rejection and failure is part of business life. But what matters most is how you deal with it. Here is how entrepreneurs can learn to thrive following a setback.
Tim Brown and Dan Streeter are the co-authors of “Old School with New Tools: The Extra 5% That Takes You to the Top of Your Sales Game and Keeps You There”.
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