Salespeople have, arguably, the toughest job out there. And they are oftentimes under-appreciated. In fact, most people don't like dealing with salespeople because they have oftentimes been associated with adjectives such as dishonest, manipulative, and painful. Honestly, who have truly entertained a phone call from a salesperson? Don't most of us just hang up or make up a lie saying that "I am on a meeting right now" just to avoid talking to them?
But let's also be honest: salespeople also have the most important job out there. They are the foot soldiers of any company. Without them, no company would be able to survive because there are no sales coming in to support the costs of a company. This is true for every company, and to a certain extent, also true even for venture-backed startups. No company can survive with 0 revenue (note revenue, not profit).
Here's a meme I find true and funny.
Sales is a tough job. But I think is a job that matters and a job that, if you're comfortable in, will make you successful. So here are just some thoughts I have based on my own experience on sales from having closed on a lot of deals (and getting rejected multiple times too!).
1. ABS (Always Be Selling)
Always be selling. Without sales, nothing matters. This is a sentiment that is shared by Mark Cuban (billionaire investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks). He shares the same sentiment that everyone in the company should get into the habit of selling. You need sales to sustain your costs and to keep on growing. No matter where you go, you should always be selling.
Of course, there are things called soft and hard selling. The point being - never miss an opportunity to potentially be involved in a project or be introduced to a prospect. Learn how to be comfortable in your skin and find ways to sell your product/service/company without turning people off.
2. No Doesn't Always Means No
You will get rejected. It's 100% impossible for every of your leads and opportunities to turn into a solid project. It just won't happen (message me if this has happened to you. I'd like to know how). And rejection doesn't feel great. No matter what the situation, being rejected does not feel great. Rejected on getting into that dream college, rejected by your crush, rejected by an investor, rejected by a customer.
Yes, the feeling sucks. But soon what I learnt is that being rejected now does not mean being rejected forever. Just because your prospective customer says "No" to you today, does not mean they will say "No" to you in 3 months time. Business conditions change, economy change. So don't get discouraged by the "Nos" you are receiving now. Don't throw that contact away. Follow up with them in a couple of months and reconnect. Who knows, they might need your product/services then.
I've had many customers who said "No" to me the first time, then a couple of months later, called me and said that they need my product & services. Remember this.
3. Put on Your Horse Goggles
Put them on. Especially if you're not reaching your target/KPI, don't get distracted. Put your horse goggles on, focus, and keep your head down. Make that phone call. Email that prospect. Follow up with that customer. Go door to door. You will never make a sale if you don't put the effort. Do not assume that customers will come to you. Unless you are Coca Cola, chances are you're gonna have to be the one to approach your prospective customers. So get down and dirty.
4. It's not me, it's you.
Listen, not everyone you call is going to be your customer. It's just the facts. No matter how good your product/services are, not everyone is going to need it. For example, I know that for my Sales1CRM software, a small business is not going to need it. So I am not wasting my time in trying to acquire customers from that market.
Know who your target market is and focus on that. Don't try to reach the whole market at once. Even with my software, we focus primarily on 4 industry verticals only (distribution, technical services, healthcare, and financial). Can it be used for companies in other industries? Definitely. Will I go after them? Not until I've saturated the market in my 4 verticals.
So if you keep on getting rejected, one of the reason might be that you're not approaching the right people/industry. Just remember, not everyone will need your product/services - this is true no matter how great your product/services are.
5. Success is Not Everything. Failure is Not Fatal.
"Success is not everything. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts". This is a quote by Winston Churchill. And it's a quote we try to take to heart. Once you've closed on a deal, no matter how big, you're going to need to close on another one. If you've missed out on a deal, you still have a lot of opportunities to close other ones.
The only way to fail is to not do anything at all. No matter how bad the rejection is, I try to remember this quote and pick myself back up. Success is not everything. Failure is not fatal.
Salespeople are important. If you're on a high, embrace it and remember it. So that if you're on a low, it can be used as a motivation to pick yourself back up.
Please share some of your sales stories. I'd love to hear them and learn from them too. Any feedback/comments, let me know or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.