‘Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor’ H Jackson Jnr
As it’s St Patrick’s Day – let’s focus on luck. Luck is often viewed as an external, mysterious force that appears at random. But is it?
Lotto is a great example – you could buy only one ticket in your life and win. Most will see you as lucky. However, you can completely take luck out of the equation by purchasing tickets for every conceivable number combination and be guaranteed to win. Luck is no longer a factor. However, depending on your point of view, luck still exists. If you didn’t tell anyone how you won, they would still view you as lucky.
The reality of this situation is; in order to be lucky, you have to buy at least one ticket. With each subsequent ticket, you improve your odds. Cover the spread and you remove luck entirely from the equation (albeit materially affecting any ROI on your winnings).
Luck features regularly as well. Sure, sometimes sales people do genuinely experience good fortune. A client can just walk in the door and be incredibly valuable to your business. However, far too many sales people rely on this as a means of making their target. They hope luck will shine on them. Luck should make a great month fantastic, but never be relied upon to hit target. They only buy one ticket – or, worse, some times none and still expect to win.
Successful sales people are often seen as lucky. However, like the Lotto example, they often undertake a number of conscious (and, sometimes, unconscious) activities to improve their odds of being ‘lucky’. To buy more tickets.
It is no coincidence that diligent, positive sales people are repeatedly more successful (or lucky) that those that aren’t. Whilst they can’t entirely control the sales outcome, they can improve the odds through the right behaviours and mindset.
‘Luck’ is often used by lower performing sales people as a way of marginalising the success of those better than them. It is way of rationalising that it was just good fortune so it could happen to them without having to address the fact that they may have to change what they do.
The reality is, luck is usually a small factor in successful sales people’s results. In fact, really successful sales people try to remove luck from their outcomes entirely.
How Can You Improve Your Sales Luck?
The real answer to being sustainably successful in sales isn’t luck.. It is about healthy disciplines and healthy attitudes. Luck becomes a skill because successful sales people know how to manifest it. How?
Robust Sales Process
A disciplined, consistent and tenacious sales process is usually behind successful sales people. They use their tools (diary, CRM etc) effectively to ensure that they capture all material information, schedule follow ups and execute their sales activity efficiently. They set time aside to undertake all the core functions of successful sales activity – whether it is researching new targets, following up prospects, completing administration work. Their diary is booked with meaningful activities and they even schedule their time at their desk. They are almost mercenary about how the regiment their diary to ensure all opportunities are captured.
No or Little Limiting Beliefs
Good sales people learn from their experiences rather than use them to set future expectations that can hold them back. They remain positive that there is always a successful outcome in the sales process. They are open to new ideas, new relationships and don’t judge opportunities and situations until the fully understand them. They don’t just see the acorn, they see the oak tree.
They look to improve rather than criticise situations – this isn’t to say they don’t find fault, they do, but they focus on how they can solve it rather than use this as a reason to give up.
Good sales people are passionate about the success of their clients as they understand that, in doing so, their own success should follow. They are selfless. It isn’t about selling products and services – it is about helping their clients capture opportunity and mitigate risks. They are genuinely interested in their clients and look to add value to them and their business where ever possible. They are energetic about their work with their clients and those around them.
Successful sales people build strong networks with like minded people who can help them and their clients and who they, in turn, can help. They use their network effectively to improve their odds – whether asking for referrals, offering them, obtaining intelligence, seeking testimonials & endorsements or having them work with them to provide an optimal solution. They use their network to solve other problems their clients may encounter to become an enabler to their client.
Successful sales people don’t wait for the opportunities come to them. They know who their ideal clients are, who they work with and they actively look to engage with them. Not to seek transactions, but to form relationships. They spend more time in the market than unsuccessful sales people. They attend industry events, they invite their clients to functions, they connect their clients with those of value.
As obvious as it sounds, good sales people ask for business – outright. They don’t leave it unsaid – they say it. They say that they’d love to work with their client and ask them what they need to do to make it happen. They discuss real tangible business with their intermediaries. This isn’t about being brassy, this is about letting their client and their intermediaries understand explicitly that they wish to work with them.
Good sales people learn. They hone their skills and knowledge to improve the value that they can add to their clients and intermediaries. They take the opportunity to ask the humble questions when they don’t know something, but realise that they need to. They seek best practice and eager consume it and surround themselves with it to improve themselves and ultimately the solutions they can provide their clients. Good sales people lose like anyone. The difference is that don’t use this to form limiting beliefs. They use these losses to fuel future successes. They aren’t fearful of asking their clients what they could or should have done to win their business. They look to stay in touch – they realise that you can lose today, but win tomorrow.
Luck is a sales skill and effective sales behaviours are about improving the odds in your favour. Like the Lotto example, successful sales people try to ‘buy as many tickets as possible’ and where possible look to remove luck or uncertainty from the situation. It is of little surprise that increased effort usually results in increased luck.
As Benjamin Franklin said
I am a strong believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.