The folks at LinkedIn often tap me for my sales expertise. And most recently they asked me about failure in sales. Specifically, they asked what is one lesson I’ve learned from failure in my sales career.
You can read the full story on LinkedIn. But I’ll quickly share it here as it illustrates something critical that has to happen in the mind of every salesperson — including YOU. As you read it, try to picture yourself in this scenario, and think what this means for you in your world.
So early in my career I began selling services to execs at large companies. When I started, I took over another person’s territory and CRM. One of the notes in the CRM was not to call a certain prospect for at least a year, so I did as I was told, and didn’t call that prospect.
Then, a few months later, my territory changed and another rep took over that account. And he called that prospect right away, not caring that it hadn’t been a full year (it hadn’t even been close to a year!). Sure enough, he ended up closing the biggest account in the history of our company.
You see, I let someone else’s failure determine my potential. And I vowed never to do it again. I began to shift my mindset to believing I have limitless potential. Just a few months later I went out and closed a new record-setting deal for the company. And from that point on my life was forever changed.
Follow in the Footsteps of Success
I always say that success leaves clues. But unfortunately, so does failure. So you have to be careful about which clues you follow. And never just blindly follow so-called rules (rules like “don’t call for a year”) without first interrogating those rules. In other words, question everything! And when it makes sense to bend the rules for the greater good, you know what you have to do. Bend till they break.
Venture Into Uncharted Territory
To put a finer point on it, success in sales requires you to leave the safety of the harbor and head straight for uncharted waters. If you want to close big deals and make an impact in your community and society, you have to blaze your own path.
You’ll see plenty of sales reps who are seemingly content with mediocre sales numbers. They are doing what the masses do. Nothing more, and nothing less. And just take a look at the masses. Look where this approach has gotten them. Is this what you want for yourself? You know that you were made for more. You were made for greatness.
This means getting out of your comfort zone and doing what others think is impossible. In fact, if the folks around you think it’s improbable or impossible, it’s usually a good sign you should go for it. Remember, other people’s results or limiting beliefs have nothing to do with your potential.
Why It Will Pay Off
There are three main reasons why someone else’s result doesn’t determine your result, especially when it comes to cold calling and outbound sales.
- People buy from people, and you are a unique individual and personality. If another salesperson is hitting a brick wall with a certain prospect, or territory, or industry, you must remember that you are not them. You are YOU. If you are likable in the least, you can and will attract buyers, irrespective of what others are experiencing. And you’re sure to make an impression if you go the extra mile by learning about their role and challenges, bringing value to the first call, and being mindful of empathetic listening, finding cultural alignment, etc.
- Your prospect’s mood changes from day to day. Catch someone on a bad day — their dog died, fighting with their spouse, have a toothache, even just a bad night’s sleep — and you have them at their worst. And guess what, bad moods don’t translate to closed deals. But like anyone, your buyers have good days too! So even if others are striking out, you know that tomorrow is a new day. And you keep on with cordial persistence until the deal is won.
- You say it sold. Wait… you what? That’s right, you “say it sold.” That is, once YOU are sold on your offer, or truly believe in the value it delivers, your prospect is far more likely to catch your passion and vision. And you have a serious advantage here, because 90% of salespeople don’t give this any credence. I can almost guarantee the salesperson who wrote “don’t call for a year” wasn’t sold on what he was selling. Trust me here, this is a game-changer. YOU are your most important prospect. You must first sell yourself before you can sell others. Once you do, you’ll find yourself in the upper-echelon of top-performing salespeople.
A Note On Self-Doubt
There is a mindset of limitation that every salesperson has to break through. Account executive, SDR, sales manager, director, you name it. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt can cripple people at all levels on the org chart. And it does. So how do you combat it?
You take massive action. Even right now, you KNOW there’s that one thing you have to do. The one person you have to call. The one email you have to write. It could even be the podcast you’ve been meaning to start or the book you’ve been meaning to write. You’ve been putting it off, taking the path of least resistance.
Now is the time to go and do it. This is precisely how you eliminate self-doubt. You MOVE in the direction of your dreams. Here is where you overcome the notion that others set the standard for you. Only YOU can set your standard.
What does a Silverback Gorilla have to do with B2B sales?
Silverback Gorillas are pound-for-pound some of the strongest living animals. In fact, gorillas have been known to lift nearly 1,800 pounds! One of the reasons this is possible is because nobody ever told them that they can’t. Nobody ever told them that it’s impossible. Simple as that. So they don’t have self-limiting beliefs. Humans, on the other hand, have been conditioned that four plates is heavy and eight plates is for elite lifters. We’re defeated even before we try.
This is the big takeaway. You are capable of accomplishing enormous feats of strength — whether physically, mentally, or in sales and life. You first have to believe you can. You have to put other people’s failure in a neat little box and place it to the side. And you have to move forward with the understanding that you are YOU and nobody else has the right to set your standards for you. You’ve got this.
Until next time…