Thank you, Mr./Ms. Prospect

It’s no secret that the dynamics of professional selling are changing, and ever-evolving, particularly with the proliferation of virtual selling, LinkedIn, social media, etc. What remains, however, is that selling is still a high-rejection business.  

Where else can you go to work with the assurance that you’ll be turned down countless times, daily – if your phone calls and emails get returned at all? What other occupation is the brunt of jokes and questionable ethics? Where else can prospects and competitors “appropriate” your ideas, intellectual property and solutions without proper compensation?

Successful salespeople know that these things come with the territory. Successful salespeople also know not to take them personally and realize that “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” 

As November is the season for giving thanks for all the blessings, opportunities and, yes, challenges that have been bestowed upon us, I thought we would pause and give thanks for all those potential clients, customers and prospects we may have encountered along the way.  These “thank you’s” have never been expressed more profoundly than Sandler Training’s founder, David H. Sandler, did back in 1987: 

• FOR every turndown that made me stronger – even though at the time I thought it was the end of my career. It taught me to move on and find someone genuinely interested in my product/service.

• FOR every back out of a sale, which left me disappointed and discouraged and a special apology for all the wicked thoughts that went through my mind, at the time.

• FOR not showing up for a Monday morning appointment that had been confirmed, and one which I prepared for, and worried about, all weekend. You taught me how to relax and enjoy my family, seven days a week.

• FOR every “I want to think it over” I took from you until I became strong enough to learn how to deal with a stall (which was really a “no”).

• FOR every other stall, and objection, you brought up. You made me a better salesperson by forcing me to use my knowledge, and training, to find a response.

• FOR teaching me that money is a conceptual and not a technical thing, and that it was actually a good thing to ask questions and uncover your real problems, and concerns, the implications of those issues and what your conviction was to change them.

• FOR every receptionist, gatekeeper and assistant you trained to fend me off in the reception room and on the phone. It made me realize they, too, are professionals and needed to be understood and communicated with.

• FOR every time you misled me and didn’t give me the straight answers. That only made me realize why some salespeople have earned the poor reputation they have. I now believe that only honest, above-board and full-disclosure selling will create a better customer.

• FOR every time I had to defend the business of selling, which eventually convinced me that selling was a worthwhile, legitimate and satisfying profession despite what some may say. I also know that everyone is selling at some point to someone, even you.

• AND a final thank you for putting up with my ineptness, my fears, my worries, my self-doubt, my introversion and all the other self-limitations I placed upon myself. Thank you for increasing my resolve and helping me become the professional I am today. Thank you, too, for helping get rid of my “head trash” and self-limiting beliefs so I can do my job better.

Jim Marshall is owner, and president, of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay, which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or jmarshall@sandler.com.

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