Your level of effort is the only thing you can control

“Sales Is A Numbers Game” – Sage Advice Or Pathetic Excuse?

We’ve all heard the expression, “sales is a numbers game.” And while it’s true, one thing you have to remember is that sales is not ONLY a numbers game.

The past two days at work have been, shall we say.. less than fun.

When you’re having a bad day in the sales game, it feels like it’s the end of the world.

Only a week ago you were crushing it. It felt like everyone you talked to told you yes.

They loved you. The world loved you.

Then all of a sudden, people stopped telling you “yes”.

What happened?

Why bad days in sales happen

Why bad days in sales happen

There are a ton of variables that are involved in whether or not you make a sale – not just your skill as a salesperson.

The bad thing is that we can’t control most of them.

Yet when we make several sales in a short period of time, oftentimes using the same lines with the same delivery, we fall prey to the illusion that those lines and delivery style work every single time.

So if our techniques stop working, we think it MUST be something we did.

However, one thing you have to remember is that there are a TON of reasons why someone wouldn’t buy:

  • they don’t like it
  • they don’t want it
  • they don’t need it
  • they don’t have the money
  • they just bought one
  • they have one that’s better
  • they don’t like you
  • they don’t like salespeople in general
  • they’re having a bad day/week/month
  • they just lost a family member
  • they just got into a fight with their spouse
  • their kid just got arrested and they have to go bail them out of jail

Sales and “motivation theory” are very tightly linked. So for most salespeople, the reasons listed above are often ignored or written off as limiting beliefs.

Even though most salespeople know that statistically speaking, most prospects wont’ turn into paying customers, there is an unspoken rule about making excuses for customer behavior.

This puts salespeople in an uncomfortable situation:

On the one hand, you must suspend disbelief that the customer will not buy. You have to “assume the sale” in order to qualify, pitch, and close.

You have to have 100% believe that making the sale is possible. The minute you start letting “what ifs” creep into your mind is the minute you lose confidence.

And if there’s one thing customers hate, it’s buying anything from salespeople who lack confidence.

The key to avoiding a bad day in sales: accepting responsibility

The key to avoiding a bad day in sales: accepting responsibility

On the other hand, if you accept 100% responsibility every single time a customer doesn’t buy, then you are shouldering a massive unnecessary burden every time a prospect leaves without making a purchase.

The solution then is to both accept responsibility for non-sales while understanding that many times the result is out of your control.

In other words, you need to understand that the immense amount of variables at play in any sales situation imply that you do not have full control over the outcome of every selling situation.

The one thing you DO have control over is your own behavior.

You have 100% control over:

  • the amount of effort you put into your work
  • the amount of time you spend learning about your product/service
  • the amount of time you spend learning about sales strategy
  • the amount of time you dedicate to prospecting and pitching customers

This is why you hear people always say that sales is a numbers game.

Yes, the reason we learn about sales techniques and psychology is to improve our closing ratio.

Sales is a numbers game. But it’s not ONLY a numbers game.

But it IS a numbers game.

  • Most prospects won’t agree to a meeting
  • Most meetings won’t end in sales
  • Most sales won’t turn into upsales
  • Most upsales won’t turn into referrals

But at the end of the day, if you ask enough people to listen to your pitch, some of them will buy.

And in sales, all we need is a few people to tell us yes and we’re making more money than most of our salaried counterparts.

So what does this have to do with having a bad day?

Well, if we CAN’T control the reasons that people tell us no, but we CAN control our own behavior (specifically our effort level and skill), then it stands to reason that we should focus almost exclusively on sharpening our skills and applying more effort to the job.

If you’re having a bad day but are saying the same things that led to good days, then the problem is not with you.

It’s entirely possible that despite having a 1 in 5 closing ratio, the last 20 people you talked to were just not the right type of fit for your product or service.

Or they had some other reason for not buying – completely unrelated to you.

Remember that sales is a numbers game

Remember that sales is a numbers game

Statistically speaking, it’s uncommon. But it’s possible.

If you flip a coin, it can land on heads 20 times in a row.

Uncommon, yes. Possible, also yes.

When things go wrong, we blame ourselves. How else could we take credit when things go right?

But you have to remember that just because 8 out of 10 of the last customers bought from you, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve leveled up in your sales skills.

  • You could have just gotten lucky.
  • You could have just gotten 8 easy customers in a row.
  • You could have just gotten 8 customers who liked you, liked what you were selling, had the money, and felt like buying.

I’ll write about how to get out of a sales slump in another article, but this is the exact thought that you need to have in your mind when things aren’t going your way.

Every salesperson has experienced a slump at least once in their career.

And if you’re in sales now, then I can tell you with 100% certainty you will experience a slump again.

You will go through a period where a lot of people in a row won’t buy from you.

You’ll wonder, What’s happening? Did I lose my touch?

I can’t answer that question for you.

But if I was a betting man, I’d put my money on “no.”

Using the logic I outlined above, it’s probably just the result of an extended streak of bad luck.

And since we can’t necessarily control the type of people that we encounter – but we CAN control our own effort and behavior – then the solution is simple: you just have to keep working.

This is why I always write a little note to myself in the beginning of the day that reads something like this: “Work all day no matter what.”

Your level of effort is the only thing you can control

Your level of effort is the only thing you can control

Intellectually, I know that even if I have a bad morning or several hours without making a sale, that I can have several sales back to back in the afternoon and finish the day strong.

Intellectually, I know that.

But when you’re in the trenches and getting sucker punched by evil customers, it’s hard to remember that.

If you don’t let it get to you, have a full Gas Tank, and commit to giving 100% of your effort on every single demonstration, then you’ll reap the rewards.

If not, then you’re doomed to be an average salesperson.

What will you choose?

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