When is a Sale NOT a Sale?

Being a sales consultant, aside from interacting with many sales people via the phone or the web, I often have an opportunity to observe them in the wild, specifically, I can listen in while they’re in their office or out and about, whatever their work environment is. Something I’ve noticed is that many embrace a false perception of what a “sale” actually is.

It goes something like this. I’ll hear a salesperson say “I have 5 sales this week.” Then when you dig a bit deeper they explain that two of those live sales are follow up appointments and the other three are potential clients who are calling them back.

Not So Fast 

The truth is that they have zero sales. Now that might seem a bit harsh, but that reality check is the only check they might be cashing if they sell themselves into this false reality. And even though you (the reader) might say to yourself, “well of course that’s not a sale” the fact is that many sales people get caught up in what feels like progress. They have good conversations with clients, they often trust the relationship they’ve built a bit too much so they let them go without closing the sale. On one hand, by letting them go they’re able to avoid conflict or rejection. On the other, they’re making more work for themselves and not getting paid for their time.

A salesperson with this mindset must be aware that those “live sales” might end up being just one or two. Sometimes and all too often, it’s a goose egg, a big fat zero. Rarely, if ever, will they get :ive out of :ive of those “sales” unless they’re a Jedi at qualifying the reason the client needs to postpone a decision, and also at eliminating any competition and that they can also guarantee that they’ll get them back on the phone or get them to keep the appointment at their home or in the of:ice. Unless you could camp out on their lawn until they buy, it’s very unlikely you’ll get all live.

Relax, Don’t Do It. 

That’s not the worst part. When a salesperson feels as if they have those :ive sales coming soon to a bank account near by, they often have the tendency to relax a little bit. What usually happens is that since they’re counting those “sales” towards a quota, or their goals, they end up coasting, instead of striving for more. They’re not as hungry because in their head, they think those sales are in the bag. They might take a longer lunch, or do some menial work to pass the time. Then, when the sales don’t materialize as expected, they have to play catch up at the end of the week, month or year to actually reach their quota or goals and of course, to pay the bills!

So not only does this create pressure, but also they ultimately do not achieve the success they both desire and deserve!

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. You can’t run a business on potential. A “sale” is a signed order with payment information or a check in hand, and even then, in many cases, there’s a possibility that the sale might not go through as planned.

The only way to ensure that you’ll get paid for your time is to always be closing, always be writing business. The more you “one call close” the better. Strike while the iron is hot, while you’re speaking with the interested party. DO not let them go only to chase a maybe. Qualify, assess needs, build value, present a solution and close the sale.

Here’s another way of looking at it. If your boss or co-workers wouldn’t say “great job on that!” then it’s most likely not a sale.

Click here to register for my upcoming web class on August 3rd at 1 PM ET, “Designing the Most Effective Sales Presentation!”