“I Was Lucky!”

I recently heard Dr. Mark Hillman, an individual and corporate therapist, speak about Sales Call Reluctance. He is a highly engaging speaker with an interesting mix of humor and directness to his topics.

As part of his talk, he listed different reactions that salespeople have to getting an order. Many of these reactions are based on relief that the sales process is over. It’s great that the sales call was successful. But the relief would have been there no matter the outcome.

The salesperson’s response that struck a nerve with me was “I was lucky!” I hear this with some frequency from my sales coaching clients, and it always prompts a discussion. You getting an order is not a matter of luck or chance. It is the result of working with a customer, asking great questions, and providing a solution they can afford. It is the result of following a selling structure, and knowing what you should be doing next in the sales process. It is also about believing in yourself, your product and your company.

Salespeople many times get in their own way. Their success is blocked by their own words or actions. Here’s an example:

Many years ago, I had a totally different business named The Woodworks. We designed, built and sold custom wood furniture from a storefront on Charles Street in Boston. Our space was lit with track lighting that was full of flood lights, probably around 50 bulbs. Once a month, a light bulb salesman would stick his head in our front door, and ask us “You don’t need any light bulbs today, do you?” My partner and I would look at each other, shrug our shoulders and tell him no, we didn’t need any. “Okay, thanks. I’ll see you next month.” And he would disappear, only to show up again four weeks later with the same negative question. The fact is, we always needed light bulbs, but he put a barrier up between us and his sales efforts with how he phrased his opening question. It would have been simple to ask us “You use a lot of light bulbs. Let’s make sure your space is always lit. How about I set up a buying plan of 15 bulbs per month?”

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But I experience this negative mind-set all the time with salespeople, especially those who are selling business-to-business. So, here are a few suggestions for you:

  1. Remain positive in your outlook. Believe in you and your product.
  2. Follow a structured approach to selling, so you know what the next step will be.
  3. If you don’t get the sale, do a quick analysis. Why not? What could you do differently in the future?

Luck, does it ever play a role? Yes, occasionally. But don’t wait around for your luck to change. Take control of your future and stop relying on luck. Better to depend on your skills, knowledge and experience.