Many of us are drawn to this industry because of the creativity and desire to make cool stuff. We know that starting a business requires work, stepping out of our comfort zone, and doing things we are not familiar with to make it thrive. But then the day happens when we have to make our first sales call to someone who is not a friend or family member, and that fear of rejection jumps right out and stops us in our tracks.
That was me when I was first promoted from a delivery driver to salesman at a digital printing company after the salesman before me left over the weekend. The job was mine to have if I could get over the fear of rejection.
The extent of my sales training was being told that someday (which happened one month after me starting there) I would have an opportunity to learn. Since the opportunity for actual sales training vanished, the fear that I had no clue what I was doing and the thought of being rejected was holding me back.
However, I was forced to forge ahead as I had bills to pay and needed to care for my first son who was recently born. Thankfully, I was lucky to connect with some nice people and unique opportunities became available, but as a salesperson, I was awful as I didn’t make enough calls and stayed in my comfort zone.
About a year into this experiment, the company I worked for hired a sales manager to help our growing sales team, and he changed my view of how this sales thing worked. He told me that he wanted me to get told “no” 20 times a day and as soon as that happened, I could go home.
By a stroke of luck, I was also playing volleyball with a guy who worked on the local military base working three 12-hour shifts and spent the rest of his time during the week as a professional Blackjack player. He was so good at Blackjack that he had to file paperwork for income taxes, noting that money dwarfed his military income (which was not too shabby). His strategy was to play the odds that most will not, by simple laws of averages, lose every time.
His method was to increase his bet by double each time he lost and then make money by playing smart on the slam dunk hands (double downs and splits). Theoretically, this meant he would always break even until his bankroll ran out or he reached the table limit. Challenges arose with being okay with the amount of money spent when losing several times in a row, as well as dealing with other people at the same table who do not play by the book.
So, how did this strategy, along with the sales manager challenging me to get told no 20 times, trigger something in my brain that led me to success? I was able to take the challenge and the strategy and use them together to get over my fear of rejection.
Let’s say that on average you get one yes for every 10 no’s in your customer and partner outreaches. Determine how many people you need to say yes in a day and use that average to push yourself to success. Make it a goal each day to get 10 no’s (your number will vary) before you move on to the other things in your business that are in your comfort zone.
This means that some days you are done in a matter of an hour or two, and others you might be in for a long day. The great part is that the more long days you have, the more success for your business and more confidence you gain.
Challenges in Strategy
As mentioned, some of the Blackjack strategy challenges are part of the no strategy. The first is your “bankroll and table limit.” In this case, the bankroll equals your time and energy.
Let’s put this into perspective. No matter how wonderful of a product you offer or how successful you are at the business, if you or someone on your team is not putting time and energy into sales, you are likely to have a hobby, not a business. You need sales to make your business successful. By focusing on getting told no, this gives you a tangible goal to reach; by the law of averages, you will get more yes answers and your time for sales and prospecting will grow. The best part is, so will your energy and desire to get the no’s off your list.
Let’s not forget about dealing with the other people at the “table” or the things that are out of your control. For example, potential customers may not have much need for your products or they have prior relationships with another business that is meeting their needs. Those are legitimate reasons for saying no. You save yourself time by marking them off your list and focusing on others with potential yes answers.
However, it is important to make the most out of a no as it is not a failure, but rather a learning opportunity. Listen to the potential customer to understand what they need and how they do business — you may be surprised that with an open mind, you can adjust your sales approach to change a future no to a yes.
Ultimately, we might think that a no is a negative thing. However, there is not only value for your business in the yes answers you get, but with the right mindset, there is as much value in the no answers as well.
Being in business requires work, stepping out of your comfort zone, and doing things you are not comfortable with to make your business a success. Every experience with a potential customer is a learning opportunity for you. Even if the outcome is not what you desired, learn to listen to what they need and how you can best make that happen.
If you don’t ask out of fear of rejection, then you have already lost that customer. So, go start chasing those no’s. Your confidence will grow as long as you are willing to learn from those interactions.