No, No, No!
If you have ever been in sales then you have experienced the dreaded “no”, whether from a cold call gone askew, a sales presentation that ended in rejection, or perhaps marketing denying your request for a new product slick. In sales hearing “no” is inevitable. You better learn to accept it and understand that you, and only you, have the ability to minimize the amount of “no” you hear. Yet far too many salespeople do not accept it, and therefore, do not own their success. If you fall into this camp it is time to make a change. It is time to figure out what you can do for yourself to own the end result.
Personally, I was fortunate to have learned this lesson before choosing a career in sales. My foundation for success in sales was built in a gymnasium with a pair of wrestling shoes and a desire to be the best. Wrestling was the sport I competed in for nearly twenty years and had many great successes. Throughout my high school career I earned two state champion titles, two undefeated seasons, 90+ consecutive victories, and was an All American. Yet all of my success could not prepare me for the rude awakening I would experience when I went on to compete for the University of Michigan.
During my freshman year I compiled over 2x more losses than wins. Up to that point I had never experienced a losing season. I lost the first round of the Big Ten tournament by a humiliating pin and went home empty handed. Consistent defeat week after week was foreign to me. I was not used to losing or dealing with the emotional impact associated with it.
The positive thing defeat taught me was the only person responsible for my success was me, myself, and I. If I wanted to reverse the losing trend I needed to own my success. No one else could compete, run extra miles, lift additional weights, practice more technique, or ask assistance on my behalf. If I wanted to win titles individually and with my team then I needed to own it!
Once I decided to own my success things quickly changed. I became a leader on the team, never experienced another losing season, became a 3x All Big Ten wrestler, qualified for the NCAA tournament three times, and finished my collegiate career in the top 10 in the country. Owning my success was the secret to arriving at my desired destination.
The epiphany I experienced though wrestling translates seamlessly into sales. Sales and wrestling are both mano a mano activities that require a high amount of personal discipline. Yet too many sales professionals lack the discipline necessary to own their success. Rather, they are quick to point the blame at anything other than themselves.
If you find yourself pointing the finger at anyone other than you then it is time to spend your next commission check on a mirror. Hang that mirror in your workspace so you can remind yourself every day that the person looking back is the person in charge of either hitting the number or missing the number.
A few common excuses I have heard from sales professionals who do not own their success include (I have used these before too):
- “When is marketing going to give us a new sales presentation?”
- “If we only had a tear sheet on that product I could sell more of it.”
- “I was not taught how to pitch that product.”
- “When will lead generation start sending me qualified leads?”
- “I could have hit my number if management didn’t change my territory.”
- “My quota is unrealistic.”
- “I need better accounts to work.”
- “I could be so much better with formal training.”
Do any of these resonate? My guess is yes, but if the answer was no then I question whether or not you have actually attempted to sell something. For the majority, these types of thoughts and ideas are engrained in their everyday attitude, which deters them from generating successful outcomes. Negative thinking gets in the way of them finding the discipline needed to own their success. Worse still, they completely overlook the person starring back in the mirror. They simply do not own it, but if you want to succeed in sales then you must find a way to do so.
How do you go about owning success? First, accept the fact that “no” is inevitable and in many ways more important than “yes”. In wrestling, or any sport for that matter, no one wins every tournament, every match, every situation, or every point. The same holds true for sales. No one converts every cold call to a meeting, every presentation into a sale, every trade show into 10 new qualified leads, or every first meeting into a second. When you accept the fact that “no” will rear its head at some point, you can control how you react to it. When you control your reaction you take control of what happens next. In essence, you own your destiny, which will ultimately lead to more success.
Second, do something for yourself rather than wait for the organization to do it for you. Take the tools at your disposal today and build what you need to get you to your number. It’s the Field of Dreams, “If you build it they will come” approach. For example:
- Create your own presentation versus waiting for the next best thing to hit the shelves.
- Compile all that you have learned about your product and/or service into your own tear sheets.
- Record your pitch whether on a real call or a practice call, share it with others, and use their feedback as a way to refine what is not working today.
- Become your own lead generation engine by expanding your network – leverage existing relationships across your industry, attend local events, ask clients for referrals or develop a more robust social media presence.
- Analyze your territory from a different angle in order to find a potential new fit for your product, a new prospect to speak to, or determine what you should eliminate from your product mix based on what is working and not working within your territory today.
- Train yourself – do not wait for the organization to hire the next best sales trainer, develop the next winning pitch, provide a sales call framework, or hold training sessions. Get off your butt and train yourself. There are many ways to do this and it can be a post in and of itself.
Lastly, recognize and acknowledge that your sales number is YOUR sales number. While the organization gave it to you as their expectation for production, YOU are ultimately responsible for it. If you want to be at the top of the leader board then find a way to do it. No one else can do it for you, but if you are proactive, others can certainly enable your success.
Where do you go from here? You go back to the mirror, stare into it, and tell the person looking back that you, and no one other than you, will control your destiny and own your success!
Charles Martelli is a true sales athlete, as he simply loves to compete at sales. Charles started his sales career 11 years ago selling insurance door to door, but now is a Regional Sales Executive for Return Path, Inc. in Broomfield, CO. Due to his drive to succeed Charles consistently finds himself at the top of the leader board. In 2013 he hit 250% of his annual quota and was Return Path’s top global sales executive. In addition to competing for the top spot Charles also hires, on boards, and trains new sales executives for Return Path. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan. In his free time Charles is an avid Adventure Racer and Ultra Marathon Runner. He is currently training to complete the Steamboat Run Rabbit 100 mile ultra running race.
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