When you lose an opportunity, you lose it to another salesperson. That hurts. More often than not, what allowed another salesperson to win the opportunity was something that you did—or didn’t do—that caused you to beat yourself.
Here’s how to stop beating yourself for sales opportunities.
Observe the Iron Laws of Sales
There are lots of ways to lose an opportunity. Violating one or more of the iron laws of sales is surely the easiest and fastest ways to do so.
Did you nurture the relationships that you need before you needed them?
Did you diagnose before you prescribed?
Is you vision yours alone, or is it the shared vision you and your dream client created together?
When you violate the iron laws of sales, you are really beating yourself. And beating yourself is how you shift the decision to another salesperson.
Follow Your Sales Process
Your sales process is (or should be) a collection of your organization’s best practices when it comes to winning opportunities. Following your sales process will yield far better results than winging it.
Have you followed your sales process?
Have you gone back over the areas where you failed to gain access to the people you need, where you failed to gather the information that you needed to build your understanding and your solution, or where you failed to gain the advances that you needed to obtain?
When you don’t do what works, when you don’t follow an effective process, you beat yourself for an opportunity that you might otherwise have won.
Choose Action Over Waiting
Many salespeople lose opportunities that they might have otherwise won by choosing to wait instead of taking action.
Part of being resourceful means finding ways to create value throughout the sales process, linking together commitments. Without these commitments, the salesperson turns the process over to their dream client, and they effectively remove themself from the process. Instead of acting, they wait for their dream client to do something.
When your process provides no direction, you have to exercise your creativity and your resourcefulness to come up with something that moves your opportunity forward.
What actions should you be taking to create value for your dream client and to move the process forward?
What fear (and it is fear) stops you from taking the action that you know you need to take? What are you afraid of?
What ideas have you come up with to move your opportunity forward? What actions do your ideas require you to take?
Not taking action, dispassionately standing by waiting for your dream client to walk the business into you, is beating yourself.
Fire Every Weapon
Johan Bruyneel, the Team Director who helped Lance Armstrong win all of his Tour de France victories, has a quote: “If you are going to expend the first big block of energy and effort to participate, you might as well go ahead and give whatever it takes to win.”
What is true for bicycle racing is true for sales. You have gone to all the trouble to nurture the relationships, to make the sales calls, to develop the relationships, to gain the understanding you need to build the solutions, you have created a vision with your dream client, and you have presented.
Now it’s down to the final two, and you are one of the lucky pair. Pulling up before the finish line means a certain loss.
Have you done everything you needed to do within your own organization to win?
Have you brought to bear every resource available? Have you asked for what you needed from those within your company two, three, or four levels above you?
Have you asked your dream client for a chance to meet and review their concerns and their decision criteria?
Have you asked to revise your proposal and for the chance to re-present something that eliminates all doubt about who they should choose?
Expending all the effort and stopping before the contest is decided means that you are beating yourself. Unless and until you throw the final Hail Mary pass, you have not done all that you could.
Deserve to Win
You will lose every opportunity that you don’t deserve to win.
If you have violated the iron laws of sales, if you have bailed on your sales process, if you have chosen to wait when you should have acted, or if you have stopped short of firing every weapon in your arsenal, then you did not deserve to win. This is true even if you had the best ideas, and even if you had the best solution.
You will lose some opportunities even when you do everything right and even when you don’t do anything that causes you to beat yourself. It is your job to make sure that you never lose any contest because you failed to do what you know to be right.
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