Sales – It’s More Like Miss Universe Than the Olympics

giants1st Place.  Winning.  #1.  The Best.  Top.  Champion.  Great, exciting labels.

World Champion.  The San Francisco Giants won the 2010 World Series but the team they beat, the Texas Rangers, were still the American League Champions and each player received Playoff and World Series bonus earnings.  It’s OK to come in 2nd.

Gold Medalist. You don’t have to win the Gold, because even the bronze and silver winners are among the medalists and their resumes will always include, “Winner of 4 Medals for the US Olympic Team”.  It’s OK to come in 3rd!

Academy Award Winner.  You don’t have to win the Academy Award; you only need to be nominated! Your movie or resume will always be able to state “Nominated for 7 Academy Awards”.  That’s the stuff of legacy.  You can leverage it.  It’s OK to lose!

Miss Universe.  Either you win it all or you lose!  Period.  Who remembers the runner-up?

Sometimes I get the feeling that salespeople think that they are in the Olympics, where coming in second is OK.  I hear things like, “At least we made the short list”, or “That will make them think about us next time”, or “If anything goes wrong they’ll call us first”, or, “Well now they know who we are”.  But it’s not OK.  Selling is more like Miss Universe.  If you don’t win, you’ve lost!

Let’s take a closer look at those comments above:

  1. At Least We Made the Short List – You should always be on the short list and what’s the prize for that?  You get to respond to an RFP?  You get to present?  You get to show up?  In other words, you’re such a great salesperson that they’ll actually listen to you for 30 minutes? Yikes!  If the prize is that you get to propose or present, that’s a prize you shouldn’t be shooting for.  We’re trying to stop you from doing that and get you to ask questions!
  2. That will make them think about us next time – Really?  They aren’t thinking about you this time, so why will they think about you next time?
  3. If anything goes wrong they’ll call us first – If they thought that highly of you, they would have bought from you this time, so why would you be their back-up plan?
  4. Now they know who we are – They knew who you were the minute you called them and apparently, they thought they knew enough to say ‘no’.

According to Corporate Executive Board (CEB), buyers of technology say that 50% of differentiation takes place in the field.  In others words, it’s not your brand, your technology or your price that sets your company and products apart; it’s your salespeople!  And most of them aren’t getting the job done.