I’ve conducted hundreds (or more) interviews in my line of work of sales keynotes, workshops and consulting. At least 80 percent of the sales people I interview struggle with developing new business and filling their pipeline with new opportunities.
- They struggle not so much with building a new relationship. The struggle is with initiating a new relationship.
- They struggle not so much with extending existing trust. The struggle is in building initial trust and overcoming initial trust barriers.
- They struggle not so much with working on an identified opportunity or pursuit. The struggle is with bringing to light new problems and creating new opportunities that didn’t exist before.
- They struggle not so much with closing when a client initiates that next step. The struggle is in initiating the ask or beginning the negotiating process.
It might seem like I’m splitting hairs, but there are some big differences. Because initiating, building, bringing anything new to light comes with fear, maybe some vulnerability. Fear that we’re really not quite good enough. Fear of hearing no. Fear of hearing yes. (And then having to deliver!) Fear that we’re wrong.
Beginning anything new comes with these fears, and sales prospecting is no different. When I started this business nearly 12 years ago, I had exactly one client. And one client is for sure a start, but one client doesn’t make for a long-term successful venture. No one is beating down your doors in the beginning. If I was going to succeed, I had to breakthrough my huge discomfort with initiating and building.
It’s one thing to wait for something to come to us, to go with the flow. We might be waiting forever. It’s another thing entirely to make a conscious decision, and then actually do it. That’s where most people quit. They quit in those gaps between waiting, deciding, and doing. Even a decision with no action is just waiting.
If any of those struggles hit a chord with you, ask yourself: Am I waiting for this to change? Or am I willing to make a conscious decision to change it, and then take one step in the right direction? For a sales professional I’m thinking of right now, her one step was to call me. To talk about the possibility of training and coaching to help her move through her prospecting struggles. That one step may be the momentum she needs to change the trajectory of her territory.
This is where our mindsets and habits become either our most powerful allies, or our greatest barriers. You can only course correct if you’re moving, you can’t course correct if you’re standing still.
Amy Franko is a sales leader turned entrepreneur, sales keynote speaker, and author. She’s passionate about two things professionally: sales and leadership. She works with insurance organizations and professional services firms to improve sales results and build future sales leaders. Learn more about Amy’s book, The Modern Seller, and download a free chapter.
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