Wed, 4 September 2019
Sellers get knocked down plenty of times, but sometimes failure is the greatest sales lesson.
Brad McDonald works with Sandler Systems which has 250 franchises around the world that help businesses grow by improving their sales processes.
Brad’s 28-year career in the U.S. Navy taught him that failure could mean the difference between life and death. When he transitioned from the Navy to the sales world, he realized that many of his attempts were going to end in failure. He had to change the paradigm.
The things he perceived were failures — having people hang up on him or cancel an appointment — weren’t really failures.
Along the way, he learned to embrace failure.
You must make a lot of sales calls in order to get to yes. On the other hand, if we see the sales calls that ended in “no” as a failure, that will feel bad.
Brad uses a gumball analogy to explain it. If you want a green gumball from a gumball machine, and there are multiple colors inside, there’s a good chance you won’t get a green one. When you put the quarter inside, there’s a good chance you’ll get a different color.
Imagine you’re making prospecting phone calls, or cold calls; the most dreaded form of prospecting. If you make 10, 20, or 30 calls, you’ll eventually get someone who wants to talk, just like you’ll eventually get a green gumball.
You’ll also likely get an orange gumball which might represent a buyer who wants to talk more to see if there’s interest. If you view every orange gumball as a failure, you won’t be very likely to keep going while you wait for the green ones. If, on the other hand, you understand that you have to get the orange gumball out of the way in order to get to the green one, you can embrace it.
Process of failure
Brad came from a culture where sailors did what he told them to do and they didn’t say no. He was surprised to find in the sales world that prospects aren’t always honest and they don’t always respect his time. And they certainly don’t feel compelled to follow his orders. Initially, all those things felt like failures.
Failure mimics the stages of grief which are disbelief, fear, despair, anger, and acceptance.
Brad refers to the “ok, not ok principle.” He came to believe that he needed to be ok being not ok.
He needed to not seek to meet his emotional needs in a sales call. Many sellers get emotionally involved in their sales calls and that’s one of the five big conceptual roadblocks in sales. Head trash gets in the way. We get excited when we’re about to make a sale and we stop doing the things we need to do.
Brad learned along the way that his focus on outcomes and results was wrong. He was excited when he made sales and dejected when he wasn’t. He discovered over time that focusing on things he could control, like activities, made more sense. He started doing the things he knew would make him more successful and he tracked those things.
Brad focused on his tonality, his demeanor, his body language and other things that were well within his control.
Brad believes that all sales problems come in one or two categories.
Most tactical problems have a conceptual basis. In Brad’s case, he came out of the Navy where he didn’t fear much of anything into a setting where he was afraid to make a cold call. The fear was a result of the beliefs he held about sales.
The conceptual issues are these:
Changing your own beliefs will take time. It’s a process.
In order to improve in sales, you’ll have to work on yourself and your own feelings about sales as much as you work on your sales tactics and other tools. #SalesPsychology
For his own therapy, he sat down each Sunday and wrote about his sales experiences. Those articles helped him process the emotional aspects and taught him to have honest conversations with his prospects.
Salespeople can benefit from journaling about their own experiences, about the perceived failures, and about the head trash.
“Failure is the Greatest Sales Lesson” episode resources
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Wed, 2 January 2019
Failures can be crippling if we allow them to be, but when we have the proper guidance, we can learn how to turn failure into success. Airica Kraehmer of Gracious Care Recovery shares her own story here and reminds us that we can turn our weaknesses into our strengths.
Airica’s story doesn’t directly involve sales, but it does involve difficulty and mental toughness.
She started working as a model in the fashion industry and she had a dream to succeed there. She realized that the fashion industry demands that you be your own product and that you bring your A-game all the time. She called it cut-throat.
As a result, there’s room for exploitation. Airica found herself the victim of human trafficking because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
She wrote down her story, and when she finished her book, she looked for outlets that would help her share it. She figured telling her story would help her move beyond the struggle.
She became an international best-selling author, and it taught her that she could rise above the low points in life.
SEEKING A CHALLENGE
After she moved to Florida, Airica realized that the state was number two in the country in terms of human trafficking, tied with Houston. After the upcoming Super Bowl, Florida is projected to move into the number one spot due to the large influx of people.
Hearing stories of other victims made her realize that she was part of something bigger. She realized that the process would repeat if she didn’t do something to help.
She reminded herself that there were as many good people in the world as there were bad people.
Nobody wanted to talk about trafficking, so she kept encountering closed doors. She compares it to cold calling for sellers. [07:23]
Though people cared about it, they didn’t feel like they could speak out about it.
She kept knocking on doors, and eventually, she found Gracious Care Recovery. There were survivors there who recognized the need for people to speak out.
Her message to sellers, then, is to keep knocking on doors. Despite the fact that she was addressing an impossibly hard topic, she found people who would engage.
Get in the other person’s mindset. We each have different experiences, and we’re each traveling a different journey. That means we each have different ideas.
That can be a powerful tool as long as we remember that the effort isn’t all about us. It’s about who we can help and who we can serve.
Keep in mind that the prospect isn’t rejecting you. It simply isn’t the right time for your prospect.
If you’re a sales manager who is motivating a team to overcome rejection, teach your team members to practice persistence.
Be persistent, but be kind. Be willing to invest the time to build trust.
Sales is a numbers game to some degree, and you have to keep reaching out in order to achieve results. Especially now that we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year, you have to keep knocking in order to hit your targets.
Airica compares her personal experience to bankruptcy. It was the ultimate low. She had nothing left. And she knew it would take years to recover.
She learned that you have to leave behind the things that don’t serve you well and that you shouldn’t focus too much on the why. It’s ok, for example, to ask why something happened, but refuse to stay focused on it.
Instead, look to the future and ask yourself what you can do to address what happened.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Once you’ve identified those things, align your morals and values with your goals.
Tackle one goal at a time. Small goals will accumulate quickly and result in large accomplishments.
“HOW TO TURN FAILURE INTO SUCCESS” EPISODE RESOURCES
You can connect with Airica at email@example.com and grab a copy of her book, Models Stop Traffic: How to Dodge Enslavement in Pursuit of Your Dream to Become the Next Top Model.
This episode is brought to you in part by prospect.io, a powerful sales automation platform that allows you to build highly personalized, cold email campaigns. To learn more, go to prospect.io/tse. It will help you with your outbound to expand your outreach. It allows you to set it and forget it. Your prospecting will never ever be the same.
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