Create Your Lucky Breaks
Think back to the last really big sale you made to a new account. Not to “Old Faithful,” but a brand new account where you faced real competition. Remember the steps that led up to the sale: How did you hear about the opportunity? How did you get that first appointment? When did the dynamics of the competition change, giving you an edge over the other guys?
I’ll bet somewhere along the line you got a lucky break, and you were able to exploit it to your advantage. Perhaps you got the lead in a chance way. You overheard something at a networking event or read something in the newspaper or bumped into someone at a sporting event. Maybe you knew somebody in common or got a referral that made a difference.
The “Luck Factor” was discovered by Dr. Richard Wiseman. Wiseman found lucky people were different in four ways from people who were demonstrably unlucky. This column will describe the first of these four differences: Awareness.
Lucky people, Wiseman said, noticed more details and were more aware of their surroundings. It’s quite possible the unlucky people had just as many lucky breaks, but just didn’t notice them or recognize their importance.
Once I accompanied a salesperson on a call in North Carolina. He was trying to sell a fairly large managed services contract. As he was telling the business owner how wonderful the plan was, I glanced around the office and noticed on his walls picture after picture of sailboats. There were so many, I decided to count. There were 26 photos. After the call, I asked the salesperson, “What do you think was the prime differentiator for this owner?” The salesperson responded, “price” — typical, knee-jerk answer.
“What do you think is the owner’s biggest interest?” I asked. The salesperson looked befuddled.
“Did you notice what was in the photographs?” I then asked.
“No,” he replied. This prospect was virtually screaming his dominant buying motive. Every photo, every knick knack, and every memento was sailing-oriented, and the salesperson missed it completely.
The salesperson ended up losing that sale. Shocking, I know. How much better would his chances have been if he had found a way to connect the benefits of his managed service program to the single most important thing in this business owner’s world? What if he had convinced the owner he could get more time on his sailboat if he let specialists manage his network? Why spend time on something he knows little about, when he could focus on what he does best? When his business succeeds, what would he have more time to do?
Lucky breaks happen to you all the time, and you probably miss most of them. Train yourself to be observant and look for clues that give you a competitive advantage. They are all around you when you just stop and pay attention. That’s the first step in creating your own lucky breaks.
Michael Schmidtmann is sales coach at 4-Profit, an IT-centric leadership development organization focused on helping solution providers and the manufacturers and distributors serving the IT channel. Read all of 4-Profit’s insights on The VAR Guy here.