I’ll never forget the defining moment of my sales career. I had experienced some nice success in my early sales career. I made more than my share of awards clubs, I was making good money and, frankly, I was having a lot of fun.
I also knew, intuitively, that, while I was doing well, what I was doing wasn’t going to get me the results I wanted over the long run. So, in the midst of a successful career, I decided to radically change my approach to selling.
I decided that being a closer wasn’t enough. While I didn’t use these words at the time, I realized that I needed to become a businessperson who sells. I needed to earn “a seat at the executive table.” And to do this, I knew that I would have to develop new skills, new systems and new disciplines.
The first steps of the journey were very exciting for me. I felt great about what I was doing. I got to laugh at all the closes I had memorized, and I dreamed of winning big deals, and of hanging out with the movers and shakers of business.
Making the change was tough. I had to work hard. I’d constantly fall back on old behaviors and found myself pulling out my power closes even when I didn’t want to. But I was making good progress. I was entering new, better opportunities. I was going against tougher competition – a clear sign that my business was growing they way I needed it to.
And then, all of the sudden, I got to face frustration head on. I was losing opportunities. Suddenly, I found myself losing more deals in a month than I had in a quarter or even a year. Clearly something was wrong, and I thought seriously about whether my quest for a better form of selling was a mistake.
When I sat down to assess what wasn’t working, I realized that, while I was losing more opportunities, I was also winning more good, high-profit deals. I realized that while my skills were improving, I hadn’t mastered them yet. I was good enough to get in the door with the right people and the right opportunities, but I wasn’t yet good enough to win the business.
What was also fascinating was how much I was learning; both about selling better and about delivering a compelling proposition. The no’s I was getting were making my company’s offerings better.
I realized that losing was a clear sign of progress and a learning opportunity. As you grow your company, please don’t forget that, to get where you want to go, you’ll encounter very similar experiences.
If you’ve got a growth story, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.