There are many who don’t have the stomach for selling, and I can appreciate that.  After all, there’s the uncertainty of income, the occasional nasty customer with an occasional nasty comment, and of course, the rejection that goes along with selling.  Salespeople know all about rejection.   There’s so much you can learn from those who sell.  For instance, do you know what bothers a salesman the most?

No, it’s not losing the sale.  Most who sell are practically subject matter experts on losing sales.  Losing comes with the territory of selling.  Great salespeople lose all the time; all the greats do.  Michael Jordan claimed, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.”

Losing, (although not a cherished experience from this particular writer,) is what allows you to learn, evolve, and put yourself on the path of becoming great. It makes no sense, whether you’re in sales or not, to judge yourself and your success simply by whether you win or lose.

So if it isn’t losing, what is it that bothers salespeople the most?  It’s not losing an opportunity; it’s not having an opportunity to lose.  These opportunities come from having multiple irons in the fire and what we call in sales, our “pipeline.”  A good, healthy pipeline typically consists of prospects, qualified prospects, customers who are sitting on proposals, customers who are waiting on proposals; and basically, anyone with some known potential.

That pipeline is our future.  That pipeline is our conscience.  That pipeline is our swagger.  Sales, or even success, can often boil down to a numbers game. Assuming we are working hard and intelligently, most of us will succeed if we are given enough opportunities. However, you remove that pipeline – that list of opportunities to chase – and you remove our mojo.

There have been plenty of times in my career when I’ve met with companies that have told me they have a sales problem.  When companies have full pipelines but are struggling to move those prospects to action, they do have a sales problem. But when these companies have weak to nonexistent pipelines, they are not having a sales problem.  They have a marketing problem.  Remember:

Marketing is what brings the customer to the table; sales is what happens after he or she sits down.

Now, you may be thinking that this was a nice message for those who are in marketing and sales, and perhaps this lesson doesn’t really apply to you.  You would be underestimating this lesson.  Take a moment, look at your pipeline, and ask yourself just how full that pipeline is.

It isn’t just salespeople who cope with defeat. Everyone has to manage rejections in business and in life.  Keep those irons in the fire, keep looking ahead, and keep that pipeline full!






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