It’s interesting that most sales professionals worry more about being rejected than failing. Let’s take a look at those reps that year in and year out seem to deliver 70% to 80% of quota. They are generally good sales people, efficient at executing their craft, but never leaders of the pack, and at times do not live up to their full potential.
When one examines the reason, it is often the case that they miss their numbers due to insufficient deal flow. They have a good conversion rate from prospect to client; the shortfall is a result of not having enough deals. Looked at another way, they do not originate enough opportunities to be able to take full advantage of their ability to convert; usually they are not prospecting enough. One easy cure would be to improve their conversion of prospects to clients, but that is not happening, so let’s accept that they are as good as they are going to be, and the opportunity to improve lies elsewhere in the cycle. So for more deal flow, they need more opportunities, you guessed it, more prospects, more prospecting.
Often this boils down to bad use of time and unwillingness to prospect. For view on the former and how we get so busy doing things we don’t have enough time to do the right things, see “Allocate Time – Manage Activities”; the latter, not prospecting, often results from an irrational attitude towards “rejection”.
In the past we discussed why we do not buy into rejection being the key reason behind people’s prospecting reluctance. But even if one did buy that popular rationale, it leads to the question why one can live with failure vis-a-vis their quota, vs. momentary rejection by a stranger.
How is it easier or more bearable to let yourself, your team, your manager and your company down, than to have someone you have never met tell you over the phone, not even face to face, that they are not interested in engaging or are too busy to at the time you decided to call them out of the blue?
This doesn’t just apply to cold calling; one can choose e-mail, networking, referrals, the web, and more. I know one very successful financial rep, company leading in fact, who has never picked up the phone to make a cold call, but is amazing when it comes to networking and using e-mail in tandem. He never forgets that he has to prospect, every day a portion of his day is dedicated to generating new leads and engaging new opportunities. He lives with rejection daily, his attempt to contact ratio is lower than some who use the phone, or conversely his is rejected at a higher rate, he continues to connect with a sufficient number of prospects and by extension their network to drive his success.
I asked him about rejection, he said he doesn’t like the fact that some will not engage with him, but he focuses on maximizing those that do give him the opportunity. While he continues to hone his sales skills, he tells me that he wants to continue to reach out to new prospects as a means of expanding his reach.
Even if you do have to cold call, (nasty I know), it is not as bad as most make it out to be, and despite what some quick fix peddlers may tell you, is one of the most cost and time effective way to get new prospects. Fast, easy and cheap, wow! Don’t believe me, well according to Is Cold-Calling Really Dead? Published at Businessweek.com last year, cold calling ranks only third after partner referrals, and general referrals. But even referrals, warm or hot will reject our approach, so it is an inescapable fact of not just prospecting, but selling.
Some deal with it by continuously working their base, others by working “hot” leads. Both good, but they don’t make up for accounts lost due to attrition, mergers, competitive wins, and other things that regularly shrink the base. So a little rejection can go a long way, once you learn to leverage voice mail, and the other hurdles you may encounter, a little rejection pays more dividends than consistent failure.
Tibor Shanto, The Pipeline