You’ve heard that sales is all about mindset. This is true, and I teach this principle all the time. But thankfully we don’t have to cross our fingers, rub a rabbit’s foot, or wear our lucky underpants in hopes that our positive mindset pays off. That’s not how it works.
Winning mindsets actually lead to winning results. It’s a one-to-one, cause-and-effect relationship. And one of the most importnat mindsets you must adopt is this: “A no today is a YES tomorrow.”
But before I unpack this, you have to understand that “tomorrow” doesn’t actually mean tomorrow — it can mean one month from today, three months from today, or even a year or more from today. The way I’m using it, tomorrow = at some point in the future.
You can radically change your earnings and your life once you truly understand this sales mindset. And it’s just as important for sales leaders — as there’s a mental trap that goes like this: The efforts of my team today should pay off in closed deals immediately. Or if we hammer the phones this week, next week we’ll be overloading our CRMs with closed deals. Not true!
This “sales is immediate” thinking is destroying otherwise powerful sales organizations and teams. We get caught up living with short-term blinders, when we must remember the long game of sales. We should remember it for ourselves, and sales managers should remember it for their teams as a whole. The rule of “lag time” is fundamental in sales. And once we understand how it works, we can leverage it for incredible success.
But before we get to the principle of lag time, I first want to talk about the factors we can control, starting with presuming positive intent.
Presume Positive Intent
It’s easy to get hit with rejection and figure the person isn’t interested and never will be interested. It’s also easy to think that certain prospects can’t be won over. Like they’ve been born with some gene that resists being sold to. This is CRAZY thinking, but I see this losing mindset in sales teams everywhere.
Instead of writing off that prospect and deleting them from your lead sheet (which is what many salespeople do), you should first presume positive intent. Of course, try to overcome objections, but there will come a time when you have to presume the prospect was actually busy when they said “No, I’m busy”… or actually working with another vendor when they said “No, I’m working with another vendor”… or that they actually don’t have the budget when they say “No, I don’t have the budget right now.”
Because guess what… life has a funny way of changing from one day to the next. What’s true this week might change next week, or next month. Prospects find time, they switch vendors, and budgets increase! So if you do your best to presume positive intent, you’ll be able to pick up the phone again and call that prospect with authentic enthusiasm a second time, a third time, or however many times it takes. And don’t be surprised when they compliment you on your drive and determination. I can’t tell you how many deals I’ve closed after I got stonewalled by rejection. In fact, this is how many — if not most — deals are made.
The Rule of Lag Time
Want to know why most small businesses fail within the first year… even in the first few months? It’s because the founder (who has the best intentions) resolves to pick up the phone and dial 50 prospects per day for 30 days. With this scrappy mentality he’ll surely get this new venture off the ground, right? Wrong. Day 30 hits and he hasn’t received a single “Yes.” What’s the deal, he wonders. Isn’t sales just a numbers game? No – it isn’t. Not in the short-term anyway.
What Mr. founder didn’t take into account was the rule of lag time. That is, the elapsed time between your sales activities and sales results. Oftentimes this extends to 2-3 months for medium-ticket products or services. For enterprise sales it’s upwards of 100 days or more.
Lag time is the time in the sales cycle that makes you want to find another career. It’s lonely, it’s quiet, and it can make you kind of desperate. But it’s normal to fear what you don’t understand. So here’s the thing, especially if you’re new to sales, you must be willing to hit the phones cold calling hard for not just one month, but three months before deals start coming to fruition. You’ll make appointments in the first month, sure, but the real magic and transfer of money doesn’t happen till downstream.
If you’re in a new role or selling a new tier of products or services, or now overseeing a new territory, you might go a month or two without generating any pipeline. Scary? You bet! But remember, a no today is a YES tomorrow. Imagine that one out of every 25 people you speak with will circle back in the future.
Maybe the prospect wasn’t in the market for your offer when you first spoke, but lo-and-behold, six months later, now they are. They wake up one day and say “who was that guy that called and then emailed earlier this year?” They look you up, and just like that you’re closing a deal. Or – it could be their friend looking for the solution you provide. The point is, you’re making “noise” and getting heard. And in the end it leads to sales and making a greater impact on the world and those around you.
When you remember the rule of lag time, you begin to think holistically about your business or career. If you’re on the sales floor, patience and persistence is the name of the game. If you’re managing a team, it’s having the forethought to plan for Q2 and Q3 while you’re still in Q1.
Whatever you do, don’t get caught on your heels. Sales can be a brutal beast to those who don’t show up prepared. But for those who do prepare and keep their head in the game, sales is the most rewarding career out there.
So it’s time to get out there and make your calls while presuming positive intent and keeping in mind that sales is all about the long-game. Account for lag time and be persistent. To sum it up: Hustle now, but give it time. You’ve got this.
Until next time…