If you’ve been in sales for longer than a week or two there is a good chance you relate to the hardest part of this profession: finding new business. If you are not an Account Manager (on one or a few accounts) or in a retail sales position (where business comes to you) you have to go out & find new business. Nothing new here – it’s what we signed up for.
It’s nothing new but there are many salespeople that struggle with this part of their role (even hate it). We say it often: Our job in sales is to go out & talk to people who don’t want to talk to us about something they probably don’t want to buy. Taken literally, that’s the dumbest thing in the world. Think about it for a few seconds & it’s exactly what we do – every single day. We prospect. We hunt. Some of us. Some salespeople are great at it – unfortunately most are not.
The “science” of it all isn’t that hard to understand. If you do it frequently most of your prospecting activity results in a big goose egg. It reaps nothing. Traditional hunters & fisherman do not spend most of the day killing & gutting deer. Unless it’s easy-pickings fishermen don’t spend the entire afternoon cleaning fish. They will tell you most of the day is picking their spot, setting up, watching & waiting. That’s why it’s called hunting & fishing not killing & catching. This takes discipline & patience. Some people love to do it (others would rather watch paint dry or World Cup Soccer.)
In sales the goose egg comes in the form of rejection. Sounds like, “we’re all set”, “no thanks”, “not interested”, “call us later”, “we’ll call you”, “NO”, and on & on. You were not raised to handle all of this rejection. It’s completely normal to want to shy away from it. Did you know that by the time you were six-years old you heard some form of rejection over 1,000,000 times. 1,000,000 impressions of NO. Safe to say that by the time you were seven you didn’t want to hear NO ever again. Perfectly normal. But that doesn’t make it right.
It gets worse. Many salespeople (like many people in general) that went to school did well in school. They got good grades, academic scholarships, graduated with honors. No of this speaks of rejection. Just the opposite – it speaks of succeeding, winning & doing well. This feels good.
Rejection feels bad. Prospecting leads to rejection. So, many salespeople shy away from it but still look busy. They work on quotes, deal with current customer requests, do research on the internet, get pens, paper clips, staples, etc. & call it work. They will tell you they don’t have time to prospect. They will do anything to avoid calling someone that does not want to talk to them about something they probably don’t want to buy. You know what we’re talking about; getting ready to get ready – sound familiar?
The sales studs & studdettes have embraced it. They don’t like it either – they just call it an occupational hazard. They deal with it. They understand they are measured by their performance & new business is a giant indicator of this.
If you are measured by sales results & your current customer base does not produce enough results then you HAVE TO PROSPECT.
There are hundreds of retail sales jobs available if you are waiting for people to come to you. If not, get out of your own way & do what it takes to succeed. It’s not easy. If it were everybody would be in sales.