I was a Chief Information Officer by trade. Wait, I was actually a Pro Bowler at the age of 18; however when I did not make it on the National PBA Tour I went back to school and studied technology and worked my way up to CIO.
Fast forward twenty years and I’m sales. Ugghhh! Am I the only one that dislikes business development? I just despise it. Ten “no’s” for every “yes.” People with big egos beating you up. People that don’t return your phone calls. Struggling to hit your quota…every…single…month.
So here are the three rules I learned early on in my sales career that made my life much easier. Whether you are new to sales or a seasoned pro. I’ll preface this with the fact I’m a relationship person and NOT a transaction person. Relationship sales focuses on the good of the customer and long-term relationships. Transaction sales, which is what the majority of sales people use, focuses on making your quota at all costs. And I know many transaction folks. They are at every networking event pounding down the Scotch and throwing business cards at people. Just not my thing. I don’t drink and I don’t attend networking events.
They Don’t Know You Well Enough to Hate You – First thing to understand, especially if you are new to Sales, is that there is a massive amount of REJECTION. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Some days it’s 10 “no’s” for every “yes.” Always remember this: They don’t know you well enough to hate you. It has NOTHING to do with you. They are just not buying what you are selling. Don’t take it personally. There is a whole world of business clowns out there that are going kick dirt on you and treat you poorly. But as my Dad said, “They will get what’s coming to ‘em son. No need for you to help.” When I first started my Executive Recruiting business…it was brutal. I was kicked, beaten down and treated unprofessionally. Then came 2008 and they all came scurrying back like a bunch of roaches. Instant Karma. As Mother Teresa said, It’s between them and God, it was never between you and them anyway.”
Not All Business is Good Business – Recently a CEO wanted me to take on a big Executive Search. Told him I would love to work with him, however the job would require a Retainer (money up front to ensure I am compensated for my time.) Despite my excellent history with this client, and what I thought was a great relationship with the CEO, they declined. And I walked away. Why? Because they wasted 100 hours of my time previously. Why? Because they always pay way below market rate compensation. Hey, I like Timex, but this is Rolex. And most importantly because they have a history of hiring their friends after I’ve invested valuable time on the search. All business is NOT good business. Would I love to do that search? Absolutely! But those terms are 100% in their favor. IT’S BAD BUSINESS. One more story. I sold a client a million dollars of personal computers many years ago. They wanted a 3% margin with Net 30 -3 terms. You read that right. If they pay in 30 days my profit margin is ZERO. So I sell them the PCs. They “late pay” and take their 3% discount anyway! The God’s honest truth. They are a major Las Vegas company, however I rarely do business with them. Everyone gets treated like a vendor as opposed to a business partner. to be crystal clear: Every client is NOT a good client. I don’t care how big they are. If they treat you like a vendor and won’t let you make a profit…it’s BAD BUSINESS. Focus on the good clients!
By Referral Only – No cold calling! That is an IBM sales strategy circa 1965. Not only do I NOT take cold calls, I’m offended by anyone that tries it. We all have 24 hours in the day. The President, the Queen of England, Bill Gates, you, me. Time is the great equalizer. Do you know the #1 fear of high level executives in America? Having their time wasted by cold callers. Worst…strategy…ever. If you want to meet a company or an executive, find someone close to them that will make the introduction. A REFERRAL. Now here is the key: You MUST have an outstanding value proposition. No CEO wants to “chat” or “network” with someone selling goods and services. How are you going to increase revenue? How are you going to reduce expenses? Come up with an amazing value proposition, then have their best friend introduce you. It’s all about your unique value proposition.