Coach Ken: Almost There! Facing Failure

So, you have been making sales calls with little success. As a result of all the negative news, you have decided to wait around the dealership until more inventory is available and the market picks up. I’m here to tell you that is the worst strategy possible in this or any economic environment. Let’s take a quick look at history:

He tried 1,000s of materials to create the invention he knew would change the world. A reporter asked him, “Are you ready to give up?” His reply? I just found 1,000 things that didn’t work!  I’m 1,000 times closer to success! (Thomas Edison invented the first electric light bulb)

Each day he walked down the docks, to work on his potential invention and each day was ridiculed by dock workers and sailing ship owners. He refused to give up after each failure, knowing he could change the world! (Robert Fulton invented the first steam powered ship and ended the era of commercial sailing ships)

He tried to sell his patent to Western Union Telegraph Company but was laughed at by management. They weren’t laughing a few years later! (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and started his own company, Bell Telephone)

In 1925, John Logie Baird, gave the first demonstration of his new invention in London, England. Upon hearing of the demonstration, American radio pioneer declared Baird’s invention “An impossibility to replace radio” (One year later television was taking the world by storm!)

President Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

I have been training salespeople for over twenty years and I have found the biggest barrier to success in sales is fear of failing.  The word “no” is not a bullet, knife, or baseball bat.  It can do no physical harm and with the right attitude it can do no mental harm. When I designed our sales training program at Commercial Truck Training over 20 years ago, I had a belief that still holds true today. With the right strategy and detailed planning, failure is replaced with opportunity.  Maybe not today, maybe not next month but you will be rewarded with successes.

I have been on hundreds of sales calls with commercial sales professionals and ultimate success has come from failing enough times to find out the things that worked and eliminating the things that did not work. As an example, many people think I am against “cold calling.” I’m not!  I am against totally unplanned sales calls. Here are the keys I have discovered that turn the pain of cold sales calls into “positive interaction between human beings.”  Follow these steps and you will become a superstar, guaranteed!

  1. Work through groups- There is no denying that when you are in the same group as your potential prospect, he or she will feel more obligated to meet with you.  Whether it is the Homebuilders Association, Associated General Contractors, the Chamber of Commerce, or a union.
  2. Once you sell a vehicle, your best referral source is your new customer!  Unfortunately, most salespeople either don’t ask for referrals or they ask in the wrong way.  If you say to a new customer, “Who do you know that might need a truck or van,” in most cases the answer is “I can’t think of anyone, but if I do, I’ll call you.” In most cases that call never comes. Instead ask for the best lead you can ever get, the vendors of that customer. Many commercial salespeople have heard me say the following on a follow up call after they purchased a vehicle where the owner praised you for a job well done. “Now many vendors do you have that service you, where you are the customer?” The business owner always gives you a number (Let’s say 12 vendors) The second question is “Do you think they would enjoy the positive service you just mentioned?” They always say yes! Congratulations, you just got 15 referrals!
  3. Follow up, follow up, and more follow up- After you meet a potential customer, send a thank you card and follow up with a phone call. Ask if you can put the person on your mailing list and have a way to stay in contact. We do this for our customers through our electronic newsletter. Dealer after dealer tells us the great results they get.
  4. When you attend meetings always have two to three targeted prospects you want to meet. I like to ask the host or organizer of the event if they know any of the prospects on the targeted list. If they do I ask him or her to introduce me.  I start a conversation that is “question based” meaning it is all about them not me.  At the end of the conversation I always say, “I would love to see your operation some time.” Yes, you get an appointment when they reply, “Come by anytime.”
  5. Ask for the opportunity to quote- After you have had the pleasant conversation, have secured an appointment, and visited their business, ask: “The next time you are in the market for a vehicle I would love to supply you with a quote to give you an idea of how we can assist you.” I cannot tell you how many times I have asked that question and received a positive response!
  6. Turn prospects into customers and customers into friend- Friends don’t shop around, friends recommend you to other potential customers, friends enjoy your company! Get to know your customer on a personal basis. Know their spouses name if he or she is married, know their children’s names, know their birthday, know where they are from and their work history. Even know their favorite hobby, sports team, or other interests.
  7. Be straightforward and honest- Integrity is the greatest talent any of us can possess.

There’s more but these seven steps will supercharge your business!  The famous motivational speaker and writer, Denis Waitley once wrote, “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”  You know what? Denis is right!