Why Sales Risks are Worth It

by Amy McDonald, Adjunct Faculty, Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development
March 1, 2018

As sales professionals, it’s not uncommon for us to fall into patterns: how we schedule our appointments, who we see, how we follow-up. It’s easy to turn these on cruise control and keep repeating. After all, it’s been working, and you’re meeting quota so why rock the boat, right? You might want to think twice about that.

The world around us is changing rapidly, our customers are more pressed for time than ever, and often they rely on technology to get information they previously would have called us for. It’s difficult to see them in person, and when you do, it’s more important than ever to move the business forward and convince them that you’re their key to success. The same patterns no longer have the same impact and no longer deliver the results that are expected of you. Now is the time to do things differently.

Amy McDonald, Adjunct Faculty, Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development

Reconnect with your inner sales leader

Changing up your sales game often requires taking a risk, a risk to try something new, something you may not excel at right away, or even a risk to fail. One thing is for sure, Trying and failing always beats failing to try.

When it comes down to daring to do something differently, know this: amazing salespeople and successful leaders have several things in common:

  • They strive for excellence. They set stretch goals that may not seem possible at first, and they find a way.
  • They embrace failure and learn from it.
  • They accept perfection when it happens, and know that it’s rare. They also know that trying to achieve perfection every time is unproductive and unrealistic.
  • They refuse to tolerate mediocrity. Mediocrity has underachievement written all over it.

4 Ways to take a risk with your customers

Where will you reach for excellence and take the risk to do something different in your territory? Here are some areas to consider:

1. When you typically would send an email or text, pick up the phone instead. Calls, not emails, help us stand apart from others. Make that call early in the morning or just before the close of the day. Keep your message crisp and intriguing. Make them curious.

2. Ask the tough questions that most sales people avoid. Ask why you did not get a certain opportunity or a win. Ask what you can personally do differently to win their confidence. Pause and listen.

3. Press for sincere feedback, even in difficult situations when things didn’t turn out as you expected. Customer “whispers” are gold and what they say softly or even without words can be the key to success.

4. Take “no feedback” as a signal that you did not impress them. Period. Listen to that clue. Do something different to gain their attention and try again.

Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

Put one of these ideas, or a different one more pertinent to your situation, into action. Remember to take baby steps, but have no fear in taking them. Dare to take that risk. If you are saying “I need to” again and again on the same topic, it’s time to break non-productive patterns of behavior. Start with tiny steps, take risks, and grow.

Amy McDonald is the president of FONA International and teaches High Performance Sales and Effective Sales Management at the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development. For more information about short courses and certificates, contact us customerservice@uwcped.org