Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hard-Earned Sales Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks

Yesterday's quote got me thinking about learning from past mistakes. We all know we've made them, but would we really be willing to admit to them? I don't think many would!

That's what makes this story from sales trainer Jill Konrath of Selling to Big Companies so great - she's detailed her three biggest selling blunders from when she was just starting out, and then explains what she learned from each.

Lesson #1: Sometimes you gotta sing

After finishing the Xerox training program, I was assigned to follow Jim Farrell for several weeks to learn the ropes. But the day finally came when I was sent out on my own.

At 9 a.m., I pulled up in front of Quality Products to begin my cold calls. But I couldn't get out. I was terrified and tongue-tied, convinced that my sales career was over before it even began. After nearly 30 minutes of being paralyzed in my seat, a song wiggled its way into my mind: "I Have Confidence" from the movie, The Sound of Music.

I started singing to myself, quietly at first, then louder and louder. I was particularly enamored with the refrain, "I have confidence in confidence alone, and as you can see, I have confidence in me."

I really didn't believe the words, but they got me moving off my "stuckness." I pulled out my cold call plan that I'd studiously prepared the night before and reviewed it. I practiced my opening lines again and again. Then I got out of the car and went it. By the end of the day, I'd made over 20 cold calls and uncovered some potential prospects.

Over the years, I've been confronted with many tough situations that I didn't know how to handle because I lacked the requisite knowledge or experience. I've learned that you can't know everything before you start. And I've also learned that "movement" is key to discovering the answers.

Join us again tomorrow for Lesson #2 about reaching higher level decision-makers.

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. Learn more at http://www.sellingtobigcompanies.com/

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