We are all in sales, and that means sometimes you lose deals - even opportunities where you feel you are the right solution. If you are not losing some of the time you are not talking to enough prospects.
In our "social media crazy world" there has been a lot written about using social media to sell, but for most industries that not going to get you to your quota. Few people buy important services from a social media "like", "link", "share" or "follow". While many can and should use social media to help grow their brand (if their clients and competitors use social media), I work to remind sales professionals that selling is still a belly-to-belly activity.
I recently was referred to a company to present a seminar to a team of sales people. They were seeking a motivating message for a sales team in a blue collar industry. I got the impression that they face a lot of up-hill battles, and needed a kick-in-the-pants. I researched the company, and while I do not work often in their industry, their organizational profile excited me and I was confident that I could have a lasting impact on their company and their sales people.
The decision maker did not return my call for several days, and when I finally reached him he told me that I was not the right fit. While I am not going to "wow" every prospect, I was not used to being dismissed without a conversation. He was so adamant in his opinion that it caught me off guard. I asked if he minded telling me why, and he replied "I looked at your stuff and you are all about social media the internet to sell (oh how I wish it was that easy), and that is not what our industry is about".
Duh. Of course his industry is not about that (I don't think most industries can succeed by "Social Selling" alone). I am positive about the internet tools we use in our modern times, but my presentation would have guided his team back to the basics of relationships selling. It would have been highly interactive to get them talking about the issues they are facing. For the team to get anything from a motivational talk they would need to discover their own reasons for doing what they do on a daily basis. This clarity, plus accountability, were my plan for the class.
The owner saw that my keynote is called "Connecting with People in a Social Media Crazy World". The message of my talks are for professionals who will meet their sales through human-to-human engagement. He apparently mistook "Social Media Crazy World" to mean I would want his sales people clicking away via the internet. That is not my message.... that is crazy!!!
When I tried to explain where we had a miscommunication, he was silent. I tried to see if he was willing to chat more about the goals of his sales meeting, but his mind was made up that I was not the right fit for his meeting.
The conversation ended abruptly. He did not want to re-consider, and I could tell he had gotten annoyed with me for trying to resurrect the sales discussion (which is what he should want his own team to do when facing adversity). I decided to walk away. I followed up with a nice note and a copy of my book, but I wrote this one off as a learning experience.
I am confident if this prospect and I could have started over that we would have found common ground. He is hungry to get his team motivated, and I share this goal. We both want to see them bring in more sales and find more satisfaction in their sales career. But he did not want to talk any more. The disappointing part for me personally was I had taken a strong interest in his company and was excited by the opportunity to have an open discussion with his team about the economic factors that are facing their industry. The world is a complicated place, and sales is not getting any easier. I was a 100% commission sales person for much of my career, so I know what it takes to be successful in a world where you live by your quota.
In sales you cannot win them all, and your first impression is a lasting one. My prospect had a strong idea (a wrong idea) of who I was, and he was not going to change his mind. It is okay, that happens.
Sales is difficult. It seems ironic when I lose a deal for sales training (is it Karma that I could not win the deal if I can't sell sales training?). However, when you are in sales, you brush off the loses and keep prospecting.
My desire is that this guy will read my book and remember me for future team meetings. This year's meeting is not meant to be, but the best sales people know that "NO" only means "Not This Time".
Motivation alone is nothing. To get a team motivated means identifying reasons for a desire to keep doing something. I know what my reasons are, and thus it is easy to keep going. I hope his team finds their reasons.
Tomorrow is a brand new day to go sell. Remember, we are all in sales -- so get to it.
Have A Great Day.