Michael O'Grady
Michael O’Grady

I think the first thing we need to discuss is the perception of no closed sales. A business is usually going to focus on the almighty dollar or, when you’re not closing sales, the lack thereof. That’s business. Most companies go into business to make a profit. If there are no sales, there can’t be any profit. A business owner can’t help but get a little nervous when this happens.

If you’re the person responsible for sales and you haven’t sold a dime for days, you might be tempted to think negatively. You might become critical of yourself or others. This can do nothing to help you. It’s important that you remain logical and not emotional. You will not think clearly if you’re upset about not making a sale.

Are You Fundamentally Sound When It Comes to Your Sales Career?

To get your head straight, first ask yourself some questions. Are you following your sales fundamentals? Do you have written goals or an action plan? What outlets or habits do you have to keep yourself positive? (I like to read books and listen to audio CDs on positive thinking and personality.) If you have nothing to help keep you focused on the positive, then shame on you. A good sales person has to have the self-accountability to make sure they’re up on these fundamentals.

Take football for example. The most successful professional football players realize it’s the hours spent off the field doing the fundamentals which make them the best on the field. They spend hours upon hours in the weight room, running, watching game film, practicing quickness and agility drills. They do it all on their own time to ensure they are fundamentally sound so that when they get on that practice field or in the game each Sunday they are prepared.

If you think you’re fundamentally sound, and you’ve got the right habits and focus to deal with the ups and downs of sales, you might want to refresh yourself with these guidelines to get yourself out of your slump:

1. Realize the importance of a face-to-face meeting. People today get so comfortable sending, replying, and forwarding email, the original message can often get lost. The same can happen with texts and phone calls. You can’t see body language with these modes of communication. There’s nothing like looking a customer in the eye while they explain their situation to you. When you’re face to face with a customer, you now have an identity. You’re a person and people do business with people.

2. Don’t force anything. You’ll know deep down if you can really help someone. Don’t force something that isn’t there. Instead, ask yourself, “What is the best possible outcome of this meeting?” That outcome may be no sale at all. Sometimes there is no mutual benefit to a sale. However, you may be able to refer that customer to another company or person that would be a more suitable fit for them.

3. Be helpful. When visiting with a customer or potential customer focus on how you can help them. Be a great listener and ask a lot of questions. Instead of thinking of what you can sell them, think of how you can help them. If you approach your sales calls with a “givers gain” mentality, eventually the gain may come back your way.

Michael O’Grady’s book, Selling at the Kitchen Table: A Contractor’s Guide to Closing the Deal, is available at www.SellingattheKitchenTable.com.

Publication date: 9/3/2012