“To leave something important to you unrefined, uniterated, first drafted is the laziest safety net you can deploy.”
A few weeks ago, I met two traditional Chinese honchos for possible partnership. I called their company way back and received feedback recently. I went to the meeting with little knowledge about the industry they are in – expecting that they will be sharing this detail with me during the probing stage. But the two gentlemen were different.
They refused to tell me anything unless I impress them with what I know about their industry. They saw through my lack of preparation quickly and asked me to leave.
It was one of the most embarrassing moments in my career. I was lazy. There was no other way to put it.
I apologized for my lack of preparation and admitted that I did a bad job today. Consequently, I asked them if I can go back to them at a later time when I have all the answers they need. They consented – but the second meeting is yet to materialize.
Their consent must probably to save me face only, but I’m glad I experienced such. I would have not woken up from such a shameful habit – sloth. After all, even the devil is into details.
I can’t afford to stop, and catch my breath.
And so, I ran.
And ran some more.
Until, I tripped.
It has been an exhausting and stressful 3 months. I kept running after what-seemed-like a moving goal. It’s been frustrating, and my only reward is that I can go home with my family at the end of the day, and relax. But that, too, changed.
On Bringing Work Issues at Home
Since I still don’t have a close friend in the office, I don’t talk about my sentiments to anyone. As a result, I ended up bringing work-related concerns of mine during dinner at home:
I’m not reaching my quota. In fact, I’m nowhere near in reaching it because it is such an unrealistic and unfair goal.
I look young so people don’t take me that seriously.
I can’t make meaningful connection with my colleagues because their group is too exclusive.
Blah blah blah blah blah
My family called my attention for this behavior. I understood their concern, but I was hurt. I had no allies, none yet in the office, and none anymore at home,
No one to tell my worries and troubles.
On Making Friends at Work
I am usually a friendly person, but for some reason I am not myself in the office. And so I cannot make a meaningful connection with anyone. Though making friends in the office is not part of my work, having some can make the work place less daunting – especially during lunch time.
On Looking Young
I look like a twelve year old kid. And this can be a problem when I am meeting potential clients. They don’t see me as someone who mean business. Their initial concern is if they can speak with someone more senior. I hate it.
On Not Reaching My Quota
This is my ultimate stressor. On my first month, I only achieved 14% of my target, and then 19% on my 2nd month, and 78% now on my 3rd month. As a business development executive, this is my main key performance index.
It won’t matter that much if I look young, or have no friends at work, etc, as long as I am continuously delivering what I am expected of. But I am not. Hence, the multiple frustrations.
But this is not the story of a victim.
I refuse to be the victim of any circumstance.
To avoid needlessly disturbing or annoying anyone (family or not), I decided that if a person cannot do anything to help me with my problems, then I have no business telling my problems to him/her. Hustle.
It will be awkward and uncomfortable, but I guess the only way to make friends in the office is to try. Hustle.
As superficial as it sounds, I have to power dress and use make up to look the part. But more important than what I wear, is what I am aware of. Read. Read. Read. I must continuously learn the industry that I am in. Hustle.
Clearly my strategy is not enough, I have to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t, and then regroup. It is not enough that I work smart nor hard. I have to work hard and smart; there is no substitute at this moment. Hustle.
Because this is not the story of a victim, but that of a hustler.
One final word, don’t entertain the thought of quitting when things aren’t going your way or when situations are difficult. Only entertain such thoughts when everything is going well, because if you think of quitting when everything is fine, then you must be in a job you hate. But to quit when things are difficult (as it will often be) is not only shortsighted, but also detrimental to your maturity.
I absolutely dislike selling. I initially thought that not reaching your quota can be something out of your control no matter how hardworking, intelligent, and articulate you are.
But thinking about it deeply, I do like sales. I like meeting and discussing matters with people – especially those who are more experienced and mature than I am, because I have more to gain by listening to them. I like solving problems and ultimately being part of the solution. And more often than not, these are the things I have to do in sales. Hence, I do like sales.
Lessons I Learned after Entering the Sales Profession
- Everything counts. Anything you say or do is either moving you away or closer to the sale. Do not leave anything to chance.
- On General Reminders
- Visualize the meeting calmly and confidently before you go there. Visualize how you want it to go and end.
- Visualize your introduction and go to stories during networking events.
- Always dress for success. Look your best all the time because you never know when you will meet someone special.
- Ensure that you know what you want to get out of any conversation (cold calls, meetings, networking events, etc) and plan how you’ll get it.
- On prospecting
- Who is in charge of X? Make sure you’re talking with the person in charge. Delineate your prospects better to make sure that they are qualified before the initial meeting. This is to lessen opportunity costs of meeting them.Then, your next question should aim at what the person in charge wants.
- On closing
- Make a call to action if everything is understood and agreed upon. If not, get genuine feedback. You can try the following phrases: “Any questions? No. Well then, why don’t you give it a try? or the next steps are …” or “If you could just authorize this, then we can start right away.”
- You should have a USP
- Never be afraid to ask for what you want.
- On objection
- Make sure to get to the bottom of every objection. You can try the following phrases: “How do you mean exactly? or There seems to be a reason why you are hesitating, would you mind if I ask what is that? or What seems to be your concern?”
- Try to get all objections on the onset to lessen the back and forth discussion. You can try using the following phrases: “In addition to that, what else seems to be of concern to you, or Just suppose, I can get your request approve, are there other reasons?, or What would it take me to do to make you comfortable to go on ahead with our service?”
- On getting feedback
- Follow up is just as important as the initial proposal or the pitch. Do it. “You can try the following phrases: “Is this what you had in mind so far? or if ever you are going to try our service, what will be the key reason for you to try it? Last month, you decided to try our service, may I know why you did so?”
- On General Reminders
- Surround yourself with positive people. Spend time with people whom you want to be.
- Seek continuous learning and always stay up to date with current events across industries.
- Read/listen to audio book 1hr / day on selling/ self help books.
- Follow blogs and community on selling as a profession.
- Read 1hr / day on current events.
- You are always self-employed. Your service as sales professional is your own business. Hence, work doesn’t end after work hours, because you don’t stop being the owner of your own personal services business after work hours. Don’t feel bad for any “overtime work” as long as you are improving yourself.
- Manage your territory well. Set meetings that are in close proximity within each other. Cold calling should be geographically dependent to some extent.
- Know what you want, and resolve to pay the price for it in advance. Resolve to be the best, and do not give up until you have reached it.
- List your goals.
- List your reasons for why you need to close accounts.
- Plan your numbers and funnel (number of cold calls, meetings, new leads, and follow ups each day) – how will you achieve your sales target.
Do all this. Then make sure to never short sell yourself or your services. Always mean business.