By Christine Corelli – Guest Blogger & Professional Sales Speaker
You’ve just spent all morning making cold calls and most often the result was an annoying voice-mail message. Those few live human beings who happened to pick up their phone indifferently responded with, “Well, send me some information.” You recognize this as a blow-off and figure your expensive marketing materials will simply end up in a file somewhere or a secretary will throw it in the trash before anyone ever sees it. You ask yourself, “What does it take to get an appointment with a prospect? What good does it do to have excellent products and services if I can’t even get in the door? What do I have to do to gain interest?”
You Can’t Increase Your Sales When You are Down
Your spirits are down and your frustration level is high. You realize the result of the appointments you had earlier that week had also ended in rejection. You think about those sales goals you were hoping to exceed–especially after that rousing sales conference last month when management made an announcement to everyone that the company needs to sell at higher margins. You head out to lunch, hoping the afternoon will be more promising.
Here’s a “wake up call” an Achiever would not need: Having a state of mind such as the one I just described will not increase your sales–it will drain your energy! One of the many lessons you may need to remember from your Sales 101 training, besides “mirroring the customer,” developing rapport, overcoming objections and having a smile on your face when speaking to prospects on the phone, etc. is this: If you aren’t getting rejected two out of every three times, you’re not trying hard enough. (And, as my colleague Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Salesman’s Bible says, “If you’re getting rejected three out of three times, there’s something seriously wrong!”) This is a vital selling principle, for if you allow rejection to pull you down, you will end up in a very poor frame of mind for any sales professional. Worse, you will set yourself up to lose to some competitor who does not give up.
How Achiever Sales People Increase their Sales
Achiever sales professionals would react by telling themselves that “cold-calling is a numbers game. I usually average four for thirty-five. If I keep working hard, approach each call as if it will be the one that will get me in the door, then I will get those new appointments. And, if I keep going back to those customers who rejected me and keep my foot in the door, and work to develop a good relationship with them, I will eventually get them and increase my sales!”
Most likely you have attended a Sales 101 course and learned many important skills to help you to increase your sales. But today, increasing numbers of companies and individuals are making their purchases directly via the Internet, direct mail, telephone, and facsimile. These are some reasons why today’s sales professionals are considered to be a whole new breed. And as I said earlier in this book, today’s sales professionals are required to do so much more than sell–they must bring VALUE to the table. Today’s companies and customers want Top Performers who are more polished, have more expertise and are more effective in sales than ever before.
Know Your Odds in the Sales Game
The first lesson to learn when facing frequent rejection is to know your batting average. Sales achievers know their odds. Just like a pitcher must know the batting average of the batter he faces before he throws the ball, you need to determine your batting average. Analyze your prospect-to-sale ratio. Let’s say you average one sale for every eight prospects. If that seems typical, then you need to accept that you may have to hear an average of seven “No’s” before you’ll hear that “YES!” The old saying, “sales is a numbers game” still holds true–even in today’s real world. Always strive to improve your ratio, and keep in mind that in many fields it takes a large number of leads to generate one sale. One of my clients is a provider of media content for web sites–news, business updates, stock-quotes, sports, photos, etc. When I asked their sales manager what she wanted me to reinforce in their sales training program she stated, “I want them to realize that often they need to make fifty calls before they find someone who’s interested in our services.” How true.
If you find your average is suddenly much higher–for example, instead of eight contacts, it now takes you twenty to make a sale–then there may be a problem you need to address. Rejection is omnipresent in sales and should never be taken personally…as long as you are certain you have done your very best.
Don’t Throw in the Towel So Easily
Many sales professionals face frequent rejection because they throw in the towel too soon. This is often due to impatience or a deflated ego. If a prospect doesn’t buy after four or five calls, they take it personally and stop calling. Or, they may feel the prospect is loyal to the competitor and it’s almost impossible to break through. Perhaps they think they can’t beat low-price competition. None of these are good reasons to throw in the towel. A sharp sales professional needs to “reject rejection” and continue to pursue the customer.
Wake Up Again and Increase Your Sales
Wake up and smell the competition! Rejecting rejection”, playing the numbers game and good old persistence all count–but maybe it’s time to try a DIFFERENT APPROACH. If you are selling the same old way you have always sold and not getting the results you’d like, it’s time to apply creativity to your approach. Just as companies need to differentiate themselves from their competitors, so must you. You must develop your own selling uniqueness and style and use it to your advantage.
These lessons from Sales 101 should be taken seriously. You also need a great deal of creativity to achieve success.
Use Creativity and Be Tenacious
Think about it. Are you like every other salesperson that says, “May I send information for your review and follow up with a phone call?” Or worse, “Did you get our brochure?” Or, “I was wondering if you had a chance to look at my proposal.” Or, if you work in retail, do you say the same thing every single retail salesperson in the world says–“May I help you?” Boring! If you find yourself saying these things or anything similar, it’s time to use some creativity and improve your tenacity. As I have often said, “If you say and do the same things as every other salesperson, how will you ever stand out in the customer’s mind?” By the way, if you hold a position in a retail store, why not say, “Hi I’m Carol. I bet you’re just looking. Be sure to check out the bargain table straight down the center aisle. Please ask for me if I can answer any questions for you.”
Three Examples of People Who Increased Their Sales
Following are three examples of how salespeople used creativity and tenacity to get new business. While some people used simple, fairly conservative approaches, others took a risk to be different. After all, no risk–no reward, right? Here’s what they all share in common, each increased their sales results.
• Coffee and Donuts
A salesman for a printing company specializing in printing corporate annual reports had been trying for months to close a deal on a new account that would mean a large commission. He knew the decision-maker arrived at the office at 6:00 a.m. before everyone else and that he loved a particular brand of coffee and donuts. After an encouraging visit, he sent a messenger to the customer’s office at 6:00 a.m. the next morning with a dozen fresh donuts and his favorite coffee served in a thermal jug which had the customer’s name engraved on it. The attached card read: “If we can get you your coffee hot, and your doughnuts fresh, imagine what we can do for your printing needs.” He got the deal and over a period of time, he increased his sales dramatically. But it wasn’t the coffee that impressed the customer, it was the creativity of the note!” This tactic may seem corny, but it worked.
• Sell the Pants Off People
Creativity can also be used to get a sales position. Mark LeBlanc, a highly successful, small business marketing consultant, told me about how, as a young man he once took a chance to land a job. When he arrived in Saint Cloud, Minnesota to attend college in 1982, he had no money and no place to live. He went to a local church where the priest agreed to put him up for a couple nights. He knew he absolutely must find employment fast or he would become desperate. The next day, he went to a clothing store and applied for a sales position.
Since the store was short-handed on the day he applied, the manager had to constantly stop the interview in order to help customers. At one point when the manager stepped outside his office to assist a customer, Mark looked out into the store and noticed a gentlemen in the deserted Men’s Department. Without hesitating he went over to the man and said, “Those pants are terrific and if you want to try them on, you can use the dressing room over there.”
The man thanked Mark and went to try on the pants. Then Mark quickly found the manager, who by this time had already noticed what was going on. He asked the manager what the store’s alteration policies were and went back to help the customer. The customer bought two pairs of pants. The owner hired Mark on the spot.
Mark’s case, while not exactly an example of how to sell a particular product or service, does show how to sell perhaps the most important commodity of all: one’s self. As I have always said, “If you can’t sell yourself, how can you sell anything else?”
• Trade Show Success: Ya Gotta Have a Gimmick
A colleague of mine, Doug Dvorak, was Regional Sales Director for Boca Research, a data communications hardware manufacturer. His company attended the world’s largest computer show, COMDEX. This international trade show is held in Las Vegas every fall and easily attracts over 3 million people in a one-week period. This particular year, Doug was charged with running the Boca booth. In addition to all the other duties associated with show set-up and booth management, he was also assigned to provide an interesting giveaway item to attract people to their booth.
Doug put on his creative sales hat and thought long and hard about what would be an innovative, creative, and cost-effective way to get client and media attention. He had been racking his brain one evening and came up with only a few lackluster concepts, so he took a break and went out to dinner and a movie with his wife and some close friends. After dinner, they had some time to kill before the movie started so they went for a walk. They happened across a novelty store, wandered in and took a look around. There were some very interesting items that caught Doug’s eye. Of particular interest to him was a propeller beanie sitting on a shelf between a pair of Groucho Marx glasses and a bucket full of unidentifiable gadgets. This was an absolutely absurd little hat–too small to fit a typical human head, with a propeller boldly affixed to the top. Doug’s creative intuition told him he must wear this cap. As he wandered around the store to the chagrin of his wife, looking like a complete fool, he was struck by a thought: “Technical people are commonly referred to as ‘Propeller Heads.’ Maybe there’s a tie-in!”
To Doug, this wouldn’t be just a new way to amuse himself and embarrass his wife, this would be an excellent industry-relevant gimmick! After checking into the price, he realized this was too good to pass up. He decided to order a gross and emboss the phrase “The Boca Beanie” across the front and give them to current and potential clients.
Doug told me he was amazed by the overwhelmingly positive response. Clients were falling all over themselves spinning the little propellers absurdly standing atop their heads. He relayed this information to his company’s marketing department and after some further consideration, they chose to follow his idea and purchased 25,000 propeller beanies. (I can imagine how hard it must have been for Doug to urge a dignified company to purchase 25,000 beanies with a straight face!) Doug said that when he and his sales team started giving them away at the show, the response was overwhelming. Boca had the hottest giveaway and the most booth traffic at the show. Lines of people sneaked through the floor of the presentation hall, blocking other booths, waiting to get to the Boca display to get their hands on the Boca Beanie. As Doug frantically tried to demonstrate his products to the overwhelming number of people crowded around him and give away the Boca Beanies, he yelled, “Don’t look like a moron, get your free Boca Beanie today!” (Now THAT took guts!) It wasn’t long before the media got wind of the Beanie. Before Doug was done spinning his propeller, he was interviewed on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, featured in USA Today and highlighted in all the industry trade publications.
Doug told me it was doubtlessly the most effective sales gimmick he had ever employed–simple, fun and a little wacky. Most important, the inquiries and sales orders that followed were highly impressive!
Inspiration on ways to increase your sales strikes at the oddest times–you can’t force a great idea, it’s born from your creativity and attention to the world around you. Also, you must be willing to take a risk.
Increasing Your Sales Takes a Lot More
Sales success and finding ways to increase your sales requires a great deal more. For now, ask yourself these two important questions.
- How seriously do you take the lessons you learned in Sales 101?
- Would you buy from YOU?
©Copyright, 2014, Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc. – Christine Corelli is a sales speaker, and author of five business books including the best selling Wake Up and Smell the Competition and, Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and KEEP Them. To learn more visit www.christinespeaks.com, or call 847 581 9968.
Note: Christine and Doug Dvorak have partnered to present Selling To Women-Today’s Greatest Economic Engine. To learn more visit http://www.howtoselltowomen.us or call (847) 581-9968.