32 Meetings. No closes. But then…

Would you go on 67 sales appointments if it would change your life?
Would you go on 67 sales appointments if the first 32 resulted in 0 closes?

Let me relate 5 lessons you need to know when seeking to vault yourself or your company to a higher level, tell you a story about someone who did just that and became so successful….

If you are an extremely capable and competent person, offering a great product or service, yet find yourself catering to far too many clients and accounts that take you granted, abuse you and would wrestle you in the mud for a nickel… how do you turn that around to dealing exclusively with higher volume, regular billing, high margin business with accounts that value and respect you?

How do you break free of that?

If you knew, would you be willing to pay the price?

This past Saturday I bumped into a coaching client from way back, mid-90’s, when I was still doing local work. “Andrea” is now very very successful.

But it wasn’t that way about 18 years ago. Andrea was an extremely capable service provider working from her living room. “Capable” understates her abilities. She was smart, hard working, did double flips for her clients, actually cared and cheerfully delivered multiples of value beyond what she was paid. A real gem.

But there was trouble in River City. She was broke and starving. She had way too many small dollar accounts that abused her. She attracted them like dumb to Paris Hilton.

How did she break free of that in 6 months?

First (this should sound familiar,) we carefully selected the targets. We analyzed her current account list and discovered that there were really only 3 accounts among hundreds that were worth cloning. They all generated more than $5 million in revenue. So we selected companies with that characteristic within 25 miles of her home. We disregarded everyone else.

Second, we started calling them for appointments. Created all the scripts and a process of calling and picked up the phone. Keep in mind that although she was extremely capable no one she called had ever heard of her.

Third, we went on meetings… and meetings.. and meetings.

The first few she had to be tugged out of the car to go inside. She learned with every meeting. How to open. The questions to ask. How to respond to questions… to resistance. How to engineer the response she wanted out of the meeting. What was an acceptable “next step?” How to maintain control of a meeting. How to communicate value. When to shut up. How to set up for a close. How to handle price issues. How to present “confirmations of understanding.” NOTE: you should ban the word “proposal” from your sales vocabulary. How to engineer interactions between meetings that contribute to the close.

She went on 32 first meetings with accounts that went nowhere. They didn’t close but she was learning and practicing with every meeting.

And then… the closes started happening. 8 guerilla accounts closed in about 3 months. She bought the house she was renting and a Lexus.

She started knowing that she could do the work and feeling that she deserved more, yet felt totally inadequate in sales.

She learned.

She moved her life to a much higher level in 6 months.

Selling skills are eminently learnable. Step by step, brick by brick, you can master the steps of getting in the right doors and leaving with closed deals.

Andrea was sick of working too hard for too little for too many years.

1. She was willing to be very uncomfortable for awhile to change things.

2. She worked a plan with focus. She didn’t start and stop constantly and keep bouncing from one great idea to the next. She made the calls. Went on the meetings. Closed the deals. Worked the plan and implemented… learned every step of the way.

3. She broke the process down into steps, then focused on and became good at every step.

4. She got rid of the crap. I asked her… “What made the biggest difference for you?” She said… “Getting rid of the lousy accounts.” She threw them down the stairs. It is better to not do the work and make no money, then it is to do the work and make no money. She created room in her business life for good things to come in. It takes real guts to do that.

5. She started before she knew what she needed to know to get where she was going. Getting those foundation accounts was hard. Many hard lessons. I think it is 20 times harder to get to critical mass then it is to get from critical mass to prosperity.

You can do the same.

Much of my coaching work now entails what happens after you set up an appointment. How to handle calls, crafting letters, conducting the meetings, communicating value, what to say and not say, confirming understanding (not writing proposals) and navigating the land mines of high-level selling.

Best wishes for great selling,
Scott Channell

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