Sales Lessons from the Field

For the last two years, I’ve been reaching out to a sales prospect that we’ve been eager to do business with.  From the very beginning, this individual seemed to like our proposal; however, after calling on this prospect a number of times, I got the feeling I was wasting my energy due to the amount of roadblocks I encountered.  The excuses, as I saw them, varied.  I would hear things like, “It’s not in the budget,” “We’re moving in a different direction now,” “Have you worked with anyone else in our company?” and so on.

Have you faced similar rejections or delays? By now I’m sure you’ll agree that success in sales is not merely a function of locating decision makers, handling objections, and memorizing the 13 ways to close. It’s really about standing on some commonsense principles with consistency.  Here are four that I’d like to share:

Some Things Take TimeAs a salesperson, you’ve most likely come across a situation like the one I encountered in my opening example. This is incredibly frustrating when you’re “in the hole,” dealing with overhead, and have personal financial obligations on the line. However, there are some accounts that simply require more time.  In the end, my resistant client finally signed up! The key to my success with this account was to have other business churning in the interim. As a sales professional, you should know how long it takes to secure a paying client – from the day of your first sales call until the day they sign up. That way you’re not surprised by any delay you may encounter

 Make Your Prospect AccountableMany of your prospects will tell you that they don’t have time to talk or that you should check in later. Instead of saying OK and running off to the next appointment, ask your potential customer when you should call back or stop by. Take it a step further – schedule the appointment.  What you’re essentially doing is prompting the other party to commit to moving the process forward.  When you do that, the conversation moves from “I” to “we,” which is always a great place to be in the sales process.

Person-To-PersonUnless you’re some sort of sales-anomaly, the majority of prospects will either tell you “no” or instruct you to check back. Despite being turned down, use these occurrences to build amicable, professional relationships. Engage in a bit of small talk and learn more about the person you’re speaking with. Start seeing your prospects as real people rather than quotas. As you cultivate these relationships, you’ll find that clients want to do business with you because they see you as more of a friend rather than a stuffed-shirt.

Know More Than What You SellWhat do fantasy football, international affairs and the cast of the hottest reality TV show have to do with your sales career? A lot, if these topics are on the mind of your customers. Let’s say your latest prospect is an avid golfer, why not read up on the game? Disarming a defensive prospect is as easy as having a conversation about something they enjoy

Walter Dailey is a marketing consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in radio ads and jinglesfor small to medium size businesses throughout the US and Canada.  Ask Walter your questions at