Sales is not fair. Tennis and selling are a lot alike. In tennis you win with more points. It doesn’t matter how great your form is or who tries harder. In sales it doesn’t matter how hard you work. You only get paid when you make the sale. You may be thinking, but that’s not fair. It shouldn’t be that way in sales. Well, maybe so. You shouldn’t have to deal with some things in sales, but you may have to.
Sales is not fair because you have to deal with unfair competition.
I recently worked on a project training a client’s sales staff. One salesman shortly became a former salesperson. Why? I listened to him making sales calls. He would reference his other customers in the prospect’s industry. You could imagine the glowing results he spoke about. The only problem was there were no customers in that industry. He was making up references and the results he was producing.
That’s why I am such a fan of testimonial letters. Instead of you talking about your work you get your customers saying the things you want prospects to hear. I’ve written about how to get effective testimonial letters. You interview your customers and write you own. Liars don’t usually win against a strong testimonial letter.
Sales is not fair because you will have to deal with events out of your control.
Black swan events are the unknown unknowns. Did you plan for Covid? How many people saw the quick demise of FTX? Or SVB? There are always going to be events that occur that impact your sales and are out of your control.
That’s why you build trust all along the way so when things happen that are out of your control your customers trust you enough to give you some slack. Delivery errors, manufacturing problems, product defects are just some of the things you really can’t control. You can only give your customers enough reasons to want to support you. Be available. Listen well to customers. Always do the right thing for your customers.
It’s not fair to have to accommodate your customers.
I remember a strange phone call I got when I was in the oil business. It was a Sunday morning at 9am and customer called me to ask me the flash point for a turbine oil. A flash point is a spec that he could easily check from the product spec sheet. Why was he calling me on a Sunday? Why was he even calling me? One option was to not pick up the phone. I picked up and answered his question.
Customers shouldn’t call you for irrelevant things on a weekend. But, they do. Some call or text late at night. Others call during dinner. Yes, you can choose to leave the call to voicemail and return the call later. Or you can choose to pick up or reply to the text.
I’m not saying you should always respond immediately. I am saying that you should determine your boundaries and try to accommodate your customers. It’s ok to let the call go to voicemail, but you should return the call shortly. Why wonder why a customer needed to know the flash point on a Sunday and not a Friday afternoon? He just did. Your job is to take care of your customers when they need to, not when you want them to need you.
You had better get used to things happening that you wish wouldn’t happen to you. As Roseanne Barr once said, “To expect life to treat you good is as foolish as hoping a bull won’t hit you because you are a vegetarian.”