Sell Like Mike
When I hire new salespeople, I teach them to sell like Mike. Yes, I’m referring to the great Chicago Bull, Michael Jordan. In other words, expect to be unsuccessful most of the time. It can take some convincing that the acceptance of failure is the first step to achieving success. To help with the convincing process, I start with this quote from M.J. himself (I’ve not yet had to convince anyone that he was successful at what he did):
“I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
At Assurance, people we hire or promote someone to a sales position are people who’ve enjoyed a significant level of success in their lives. Whether through achievement in school, competing in sports, leadership roles in clubs or prior work experience, they have a track record peppered with solid results. But sales is a numbers game. It takes a certain amount of swings (and misses) to drive success; and it requires ongoing resilience to get back up to swing again.
Here’s the math I share with them, which, as you can imagine, makes their eyes glaze over:
($Goal / $Size / %CloseRatio / %QualRatio / %AcceptRatio) = Number of contacts needed
However, when I share with them the chart below, filled in with numbers applicable to them, and I change the variables to show different scenarios, the light goes on. The key for a salesperson, like a basketball player, is to know their own numbers and constantly strive to improve their percentages.
A salesperson can dramatically reduce his or her volume of unsuccessful activity by improving any of these factors:
- Generating warm rather than cold contacts
- Honing their qualification process
- Improving their closing ratio
- Increasing revenue per client
Below is a chart - generic to any sales scenario - that demonstrates how changes in any of these factors dramatically impacts the volume of contacts needed to reach the same monetary goal:
Of course, if they really want to “be like mike” in their sales career, they’ll logically recognize that failure is part of the game. But, they’ll never fully accept it. And every time they step to the line to take a shot, they’ll expect to make it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR