Today's post is by Mark Petruzzi and Paul Melchiorre, co-authors of Selling the Cloud: A Playbook for Success in Cloud Software and Enterprise Software Sales.
Rejection and adversity are commonplace in sales. We get knocked down, and we get up again and again. Most salespeople will hear “no” more than “yes.” You will be stood up and ignored, but behind each closed door is a priceless lesson—the sales greats are those that take the time to pause, reflect, and absorb and apply those lessons.
To perfect the art of sales is to channel the art of resilience. Here are four strategies to embrace failure and learn from it.
1. Overcome Adversity
Our mindset greatly influences how we react to adversity. The important thing to remember is that rejection does not equate to worth. Failure always hurts, but it is not permanent. The key to resilience is considering every loss an opportunity to grow.
Next time something does not go your way, ask yourself two questions to reset your mindset:
- What can I learn from this loss/failure/negative experience?
- What can I do differently next time?
It is also important to remain calm and take responsibility for the role you played in the failure. This requires patience, self-awareness, and confidence, and it may be something you work toward over time.
2. Take “No” for an Answer
Whether we are asking someone out to dinner or pitching a deal, “no” is not an answer we want to hear in our personal or professional lives. Unfortunately, an “anti-no” culture has become so prevalent in sales and is the primary focus of countless sales training programs. In fact, one of the basic belief systems in selling is, “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Now ask yourself, honestly—how do you feel when you say “no” to someone who will not take “no” for an answer? No one wants to be strong-armed into something they do not want or need.
A good salesperson is one that knows early on when a “no” is a “no,” and focuses his or her efforts on the leads that promise a potential “yes.”
Accepting “no” allows us to hit our full revenue production potential because it frees up more room for clients who are better fits. So, try accepting a “no” and see if it gets you a few more shots at “yes” down the road.
3. Don’t Focus on Closing
In many industries, being dubbed a "closer" is the highest accolade a sales professional can achieve. The term encapsulates the skills and traits necessary to become a top-level performer. Closers are the most highly recruited and sought after—the true elite. However, most of us don’t even like to be considered salespeople—much less closers!
This is true despite the fact that we can close with the best of them and that many sales executives consider closing important. Many senior partners or CEOs have said, “If only we had someone around here who can close, we’d have a lot more business.” But the reality is that sales close themselves if they’ve been worked properly throughout the sales process.
4. Learn from Every Deal
Every deal, whether it is won or lost, is worth dissecting and learning from. Strong sales organizations build a process around this. Lost deals are not all bad. In fact, you learn a lot more from lost deals than won deals. In our experience, the best sales deal reviews are not done in a vacuum, but with a team. One strategy is to have a sales rep give a presentation about a great win or a tough loss in front of the entire company. It is a vulnerable task, but incredibly helpful to the rep and to the entire organization. Ultimately, the process can become a great sales enablement tool and an opportunity for company-wide engagement.
Remember, failure always hurts, but it is not permanent. The key to resilience is taking every loss as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Selling the Cloud: A Playbook for Success in Cloud Software and Enterprise Software Sales provides strategies individuals and organizations can apply to boost sales performance, help customers succeed, and grow careers and businesses. Order your copy today.