Sometimes even the best salespeople completely WHIFF an opportunity.
This happened to me yesterday. While it is SO embarrassing, I just have to share it with you. Perhaps I will save you from your own EPIC FAIL!
Also known as: How to Violate 10 Sales Principles in Less Than 30 Minutes.
Here’s the story:
I had a call set up with a company I have wanted to close for about a decade now. They are AWESOME and would be a huge feather in our cap. My manager really wants this deal.
The President of this company had reached out to me to set up the call with her trusted employee, Amanda.
So, YAY! I have the opportunity.
BONUS: I did not DROOL on myself, so THAT was a victory (about the only one.)
FIRST VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I was ATTACHED to the sale
When we get ATTACHED to a sale, we do some wonky stuff. In my case, I did some really weird things. First, I got myself really worked up and nervous about the conversation.
SECOND VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I OVER-RESEARCHED the situation. I OVER-PREPARED.
“What?”, you say? “Isn’t preparation a great thing?” Well, it IS when you come from the context of caring about what they are dealing with. But, sometimes two things will happen when you over-prepare.
First, you may get intimidated by the person you are speaking with. Their background and the way they show up on LinkedIn and Google may freak you out. That happened to me on this call. (Of course, this is ridiculous – I speak with CEO’s, Executive Directors, and BIG DEALS all the time – something just got me on my back foot. Hmmmm….)
Second, you may make assumptions about what the person wants or needs based on what you have read on their website. I did this exact thing. I really did not know what Amanda wanted to talk about or why we were having the conversation.
THIRD VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I assumed I knew what they needed and what they were dealing with.
So, I went into the conversation making comments rather than REALLY getting into Amanda’s world and asking tons of questions.
FOURTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I tracked her down.
SHE had set up the meeting with a dial-in number and Webex. She was 7 minutes late. So, I called Amanda at her desk to see if we were still on. She said “Yes, why don’t you just call my land line and we’ll talk”. So, I did and now I was worried if we would have enough time to cover everything.
“What?”, you think. “What’s the problem with that?” Well, this one is very subtle. By tracking HER down, I lost two things.
First, I lost the opportunity for Amanda to get in touch with me to right the ship. (Remember that RECIPROCATION is a powerful thing – when they OWE you because they messed up, you gain power in the conversation). She DID apologize and was gracious, but I had lost that magic moment.
The thing to do was wait 10 minutes, hang up, email Amanda and apologize if I may have messed up the time. THEN, SHE has to call me or email me and I can suggest that we re-schedule for a time that works better for her OR we can acknowledge that time is now short. And, I get to be GREAT with her.
Second, I lost my ability to participate as an equal in the conversation. By tracking Amanda down, I communicated to both of us that her time was more important than mine. I was on my back foot.
FIFTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I violated my own emotional space.
(And this one is just TOO embarrassing, but I am going to give it ALL to you – even when I would rather not)
As we were getting re-related, I shared with Amanda that I was actually NERVOUS to be on the call with her because of how great and accomplished she is. (CAN YOU IMAGINE?) Yes, on one hand it looks like “being authentic”, but ONCE again, I communicated to both of us that she is more important than I am.
SIXTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I did not seek to understand before trying to get HER to understand what I had to say.
To kick off the call, Amanda mentioned that the contract with her current vendor was coming due and that she might be looking to make a change. Even though she knew a lot about my company already, Amanda admitted that she was sure that our services must have evolved since she last took a look. She asked me how we had evolved and how it might make a difference for her now.
Oooh, this is golden, but I massively WHIFFED here. I shared a couple of things that were new and exciting about the ways that we were helping other companies. Both TOP things I shared, she had no need for. So, the conversation was basically dead and Amanda now has mentally checked us off as not relevant.
What I COULD have done INSTEAD was say, “Well, there are TONS of new and exciting things, but I would really have to understand a lot more about why you are thinking of making a change and what is important to you. Do you have time to lay those things out for me and then, if we both feel it makes sense, I can tailor a demonstration to our conversation and we can get on another WebEx and I can show you around?” Then be quiet.
Nope. Didn’t do that.
SEVENTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: Make the same mistake twice in a row.
Amanda went on to say that while we might not be able to help with the first project, she and her President also thought that we might be able to help with another project they were working on.
AGAIN! I assumed what she needed and I launched into “selling” the way we help companies do similar things and I laid out some examples. Her new program did NOT have similar needs (because AGAIN I hadn’t asked her to be more specific – I ASSUMED based on my research, what they would want).
AGAIN, she marked me off as irrelevant for this project, too.
EIGHTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I chased a “No!”
It continues to get more embarrassing. We were nearing the end of the conversation and I made one last assertion. “Well, I DO think, based on the things you have shared with me that it would be valuable for us to get on an online demonstration to further explore”.
That one landed like a BIG LEAD BALLOON. “Yeah”, she said. “Maybe.” “Let’s stay in touch because there may really be a way for us to work together, I just don’t see it now.”
It seems that I have virtually NO way to recover now. I will have to come up with some ways to seduce Amanda into learning more or giving me a chance to learn more if I want to keep this conversation alive. Right now, I am mostly just licking my wounds, but TOMORROW, I will call my mentor and get some good ideas. That is always a winning move.
NINTH NOT-VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: Always seek the wisdom of others when you get stuck!
I will let you know what we come up with and what actions I take now. There are TWO qualified opportunities here and I will have to learn and grow myself to put myself in a position to try again! I would love your insights, too. Please comment!
TENTH NOT-VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: Never give up!
Even though I am mortified, I will not let myself NOT learn the lessons here AND Amanda and I are not both convinced that there is not a way for us to work together. We will graciously follow it all-the-way through.
Even though I would rather crawl under a rock and just let this one go.
So, there it is!
AND NOW, A QUOTE THAT REALLY HELPED
Today, I saw this quote on Facebook from Michael Jordan. It made me realize that, even though I massively WHIFFED on this call, I can be satisfied that I keep giving it my all and failures are a part of my success. I hope you enjoy it, too!
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Love your WHIFFS UP! (And give me YOUR ideas about how to salvage the situation).
The Irreverent Sales Girl