The bitter taste of rejection, frustration, and discouragement makes prospecting for new accounts feel like the last thing anybody wants to be doing.
Those negative feelings – or the fear of experiencing them – can have a paralyzing effect on even the most successful sales pros. Fear of failure diminishes our self-esteem, drains our energy, and dampens our forward momentum.
The immediate result is that we avoid prospecting. The long-term result is that we have fewer qualified sales opportunities in future months. And fewer opportunities translate to lower close rates and less revenue.
That looming abyss of discouragement is probably the greatest challenge to any sales pro. When we frame selling as a “zero sum” game, in terms of win and lose, it’s hard not to take the losses personally. But fortunately, that’s not the only way to see it.
Instead of focusing on the product of our efforts – winning a new prospect or closing a new deal – we can see it as a process – a process of elimination.
Imagine for a moment that you’re working with a list of 100 target businesses, 100 “suspects” that match your appetite for size, industry and other variables. From past experience you know that, on average, a certain number of those suspects will agree to meet with you.
Let’s just say that 5 out of the 100, or 5% of the suspects will become actual prospects, willing to meet and open to changing agents if you can offer meaningful advantages.
Of course you don’t know which of the 100 suspects will turn out to be prospects, but you can be confident, because of your past experience, that 5 of those 100 targets will be qualified sales opportunities. Based on that understanding, every time you eliminate one of the suspects, you’re closer to those 5 prospects ‘hiding’ somewhere in that group of 100.
Every time you rule out a suspect because there’s no sales potential, the closer you’ll be to those with true promise.
Instead of feeling disappointed when a suspect doesn’t want to meet, you can remind yourself that the odds of getting an appointment on your next call have now increased.
Let’s imagine that after spending a certain amount of time calling that list of 100 suspects, you’ve eliminated 50 of them, but have not been able to find one true prospect. Some were not reachable, others were not at all interested in your offer, and still others turned out to be too small or didn’t qualify as a prospect in some way.
Now that you’ve ruled out half the list, your odds of landing a prospect have increased from 5% to 10%.
Instead of focusing narrowly on the results of our sales efforts, we can see it as the process that it is; proceeding systematically, we don’t have to get caught up in the emotional mire that comes from the trap of hope and fear.
When we pay attention to the process itself we’re a lot less likely to feel discouraged by any outcomes because we don’t need to ride the emotional seesaw of win and lose.