Building a successful selling career isn’t about making waves—making big sales. Selling is about developing relationships that produce streams of ongoing business and referrals. And often, those relationships start with a ripple—a small sale.
For many salespeople, chasing big sales that would propel them to the top of the sales charts has been their downfall. Those big sales are typically too few and far between. And, narrowing their focus only on the big sales creates two patterns of behavior that ultimately diminish their success. The first is wasting an inordinate amount of time chasing opportunities that most often don’t come to fruition. Unfortunately, the more time they “invest,” the less likely they are to let go even when it becomes clear that the opportunity has stalled.
The second destructive behavior is forgoing other opportunities that may not measure up in terms of sales revenue or commission (at least when compared to the expected payoff of a “big” sale), but do have the potential to establish new relationships and lead to additional sales, and perhaps a stream of future business and referrals.
It’s easy to become seduced by the potentially big payoff of a big sale. With one or two “wave makers,” you satisfy your quota and reach your income goal. It’s much harder, and takes more discipline, however, to focus on smaller sales as a means of reaching your goals. But, there are significant benefits—financial and emotional.
When you are concurrently developing several ripples rather than counting on one wave maker, no single opportunity represents a “life or death” outcome in relation to your sales quota and commission. Consequently, you are less likely to become emotionally invested in any one opportunity and more likely to be able to make objective decisions about the quality of the opportunity and your chances of closing it in a timeframe consistent with your goals. If an opportunity doesn’t measure up, letting it go doesn’t leave you empty-handed. It simply frees up some time to find another opportunity. And, because you have other ripples in development, you can find that opportunity without the pressure you would likely feel if the one, and perhaps only, opportunity in your pipeline to which you had pinned all of your hopes had just fallen through.
- John Martin