You’ve probably heard some leaders say, “Failure is not an option” thinking they are motivating others. They’re wrong. Failure is an option and it certainly is a possibility in sales. Sales professionals know that customers sometimes have other purchasing ideas even if failure is not the option sales professionals would choose. What can sales professionals do when failure sometimes occurs in their sales? Here are some ideas.
Get over it quickly.
I don’t mean to be harsh, but muddling in disappointment for days just won’t work if you are a disappointed sales professional. Don’t take my word for it. Martin Seligman has researched sales success. Optimists outsell pessimists. Pessimists are the ones who ruminate over and over about their failure. They can’t get over it. So, stop it! Realize that failure is not permanent, even though pessimists think it is. Pessimists can and must learn to think more optimistically to get past the failure.
First, they can stop the mental self-talk that’s negative. You do have a choice in what you focus on. Yes, you can be angry and scream at the wall. Just be sure that the screaming is limited and recognize when you’re going off on the doom and gloom path. You have to cut it short and move on to something different that isn’t negative. Some people find that talking about their failure with someone else is helpful. It gives closure. Do whatever works for you. Just focus on limiting the time you spend with the negative self-talk going over and over the disappointment.
Learn from it.
One of the things you can and should learn from a failure is what is causing the failure. Take inventory of your past mistakes. Are they the same or similar? That’s not good. How will you know if they are? You have to delicately ask your prospects why they selected another supplier when you lose business. Some prospects will be hard to reach. They might think you are still trying to sell. Make it clear that you are not.
Ask for help to make your selling better in the future. How you ask and what you ask for is critical to get a response. Asking “What could I have done better?” might be too direct. You should start with, “I need your help.” Then give your prospect a reason to pick another supplier to help you get a more truthful answer. You might say, “I know there’s a reason you picked someone else. What did my competition do better than I did?”
You aren’t going to get different results when you do the same things again and again. It’s acceptable to make mistakes and fail. It’s not acceptable to constantly repeat the same mistake over and over again. Avoiding a failure means you are doing something different. Find out what you need to change and where to do better.
What did you miss?
Sometimes you have a flaw in your sales process that causes the failure. The flaw is something you missed as you developed your sales strategy. Ask yourself, “What did I need to know that could have made the sale?” Perhaps you missed selling to a key decision maker. Maybe you missed asking for a specific piece of information. Maybe your timing was off and you needed to get buy in from different people than you thought. You must identify what you missed.
Adjust your sales process to include the missed questions or missstep. On future sales calls be sure to include identifying and working with all key decision makers. That means also contacting the people who might say no. Those people who can stop the deal are often overlooked in sales.
No sales professional ever wants to lose a deal. The only certainty in sales is that sometimes you’re going to fail. Be the successful salesperson and quickly move on so you can then get to your next successful sale.