One of the hardest things for accidental sales people to cope with in sales is the rejection. It stops them taking the action necessary to achieve success. In fact, this is not just a problem for accidental sales people. In a tele-seminar for the Accidental Salesman, I interviewed Chris Mather, a highly successful regional sales manager working in the door to door industry selling subscriptions to a magazine for women.
The idea behind the tele-seminar was to find out how door-to-door sales people handle so much rejection on a daily basis. I hope, by reading this article, you will find the lessons are valuable, whatever you are selling.
Chris runs a large region of sales people and has previously been responsible for the induction training of all of his company’s new sales people. Chris does not believe there is such thing as a born salesman just like there is no such thing as a born accountant or doctor. Perhaps the fact that Chris was a butcher before he got into sales has something to do with it. He certainly gets all sorts of people coming to work for him. Some would fit the sales stereo type but most do not.
Here are Chris’s top tips for handling rejection:
1. Set your expectations
2. Manage your motivation and attitude
3. Change your perspective
4. Be respectful
5. Build on experience
Set your expectations
Chris says the mark of his top performers is that they know their numbers and are always looking to make small changes to their approach in order improve their numbers on a consistent basis. They realise that they get paid for the nos as well as the yeses. The more nos they get, the more yeses they get too. Its all part of the job and is to be expected.
Selling is a numbers game and expecting to sell to everyone is a recipe for misery in sales. Once you accept the nos as well as the yeses then things become a lot easier. You can always do better and improve but that requires setting a benchmark for your average sales results. Keeping statistics helps you identify your numbers and how many nos you need in order to get a yes. His best sales people will know their numbers for different types of house and different areas. They do not expect to win a sale every time. They knock on a door hoping for a sale but they do not expect to win them all and they do not get emotionally attached to winning any particular sale. They know that with enough activity ‘it will all come out in the wash’.
Manage your motivation and attitude
When you are motivated and have a good attitude you are less likely to let things get you down. Motivation acts like anaesthetic and you do not mind the knock backs so much. Chris can tell whether one of his sales people is going to have a good day or not just by their posture and their tone of voice. Prospects respond differently to changes in motivation and attitude too.
Chris says that he can motivate his sales people enough to get them going but unless they have strong personal motivation then it will not last for long. You have to have a good reason for wanting to go out in the pouring rain, hour after hour, let alone knocking doors. Chris knows that money is not a strong enough motivation and it has to be emotional and mean something to the individual. Chris confessed that his burning motivation was not wanting to be poor again. Motivation can be pain or pleasure and knowing how you motivate yourself is important.
Chris does not care what his sales people are motivated by – just that they have a strong desire. He needs to know that they have a compelling reason to move out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to get good at sales. He takes a personal interest in his sales people’s dreams and goals to help motivate them because he knows that is what will sustain them when the going gets tough.
He believes you can decide to take charge of your own motivation or leave it to chance. Similarly, you can take charge of your attitude too. When you have a good positive attitude then things do not seem as bad as when you are feeling down. Before you go to bed each night you can decide how you want to feel the next day. Pretty soon it becomes a habit, the same as waking up just before your alarm clock goes off!
Change your perspective
Chris believes that reading and personal development helps to broaden your mind and change your perspective. At the age of 29 he had not read a single book all the way through and yet now he is an addict. He always has a couple of books on the go and a list of books he wants to read. He has found that reading and personal development has not only given him strategies and techniques but has also helped to shape his perspective on sales and life in general. You need to get fresh input from somewhere to help change your perspective. Chris says that his new sales people have their perspective changed just by talking to other sales people. This can work in both a positive and a negative way depending on whom they speak to.
Chris spends a lot of effort training his new sales people but says that whomever they listen to makes a big impact on their results. Everyone emerges from the induction training feeling positive and motivated. They have all the skills and knowledge to succeed. They are in for trouble, however, if they then go and listen to unsuccessful sales people who sound like they know what they are talking about. Quickly they go from thinking it is easy to thinking it is difficult. Chris likes to pair up new starters with existing sales staff that are thinking in the right way, so that they do not have their thinking ‘poisoned’ .
Be respectful to your prospects and you will not be rejected. If you are pleasant to people then they will generally be pleasant back but that does not mean they will want to buy from you. They may reject what you have to offer, but that is not the same as rejecting you. It may be for a myriad of reasons. They could be preoccupied with something else. It could be a bad month financially. They could just be tired and want to relax in front of the TV. Who knows? If you ane friendly and respectful, you leave the door open and they may buy next time you call.
Chris says that by being respectful he has sold to many people who would not normally buy on the door. Some even have signs warning off sales people. Yet using a respectful approach means there is much less resistance and therefore much less rejection. He teaches his sales people not to try and sell to anyone whose body language shows the prospect is not pleased to see them. This happens less when being friendly, but it still happens. Instead of selling in these situations, he advises his sales people to apologise and to quickly be on their way. In the time they spent trying to convince someone, they could have found another prospect that actually wants the product. There is no point wasting time with someone who is not in the right frame of mind for a sales call. Better to come back another day where they may actually be happy to see you.
Build on experience
If you are feeling rejected and getting animosity from prospects then varying your approach may help! It may just be them but you could be unwittingly bringing rejection upon yourself by your approach. Watch what is happening and make small changes and see if they make any difference.
Once someone has been selling for a while they should notice that certain objections come up frequently. A good sales person, according to Chris, will look at ways of overcoming common objections either with a friendly response to an objection or, better still, changing the approach to avoid the objection arising in the first place.
For example, one of the common objections is that people are busy when the salesman knocks on the door. An experienced sales person will expect this. The better sales people will change their approach to avoid it from arising. For example, they will include, very early on in their introduction, something like ‘You are probably very busy so I will only be a couple of minutes’. It does not work all the time but experience shows it increases success rates. Not every change will result in an improvement. Some may make things worse. However, It is only by experimenting and seeing what happens that you make the improvements. If you keep doing the same things then you will get the same results.