It may be simpler than you think to achieve your sales quota. Just practice one of the principles that made Steve Jobs one of the great innovators of our time.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on,” he said. “But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
Good selling is saying no to 1,000 things as well. Here are a few things that call for a “no.”
1. Say no to prospects that don’t fit your ideal client profile. Be careful that you don’t give into the pull of one-off selling. You know that one-off deal you closed 20 years ago with a client that didn’t fit your profile. Apply the EQ skill of reality testing. You can’t hit quota chasing one-off opportunities.
2. Say no to prospects that show lack of commitment to change or invest. They’re pretty easy to spot and will demonstrate the usual signs:
- The Conversation – “This sounds interesting. Can you put something together?” I have yet to have someone buy from me because they thought my services were interesting.
- Access – This prospect might as well be a game or prison warden. They won’t allow access to other buying influences. They expect you to bring out your crystal ball, wave your wand and create a compelling proposal.
- Money – My history with cheap prospects is that they want a lot for very little. You should refer this prospect to your competitor so she can waste time writing a practice proposal and doing the discount dance.
3. Say no to the naysayers. These could be fellow members of your sales team that have been reading too much fake sales news. They have invisible tattoos on their foreheads that say “victim,” so they blame their lack of success on their territory, lack of marketing or the economy.
Remember, emotions are contagious and the naysayer’s pessimism is one disease you don’t want to catch.
4. Say no to distractions. It’s hard to believe, but research shows that people, on average, check their smartphones 150 times each day. The reason you aren’t hitting quota is that you are always checking in, wondering what you’re missing instead of focusing on what you could be creating.
5. Say no to being dumb. The business trend or buzz word is to be a value-added partner, a thought leader or trusted advisor. If you aren’t reading, studying or learning, you can’t add value to any conversation -- not even when you are standing in line at the grocery store. And you certainly aren’t a thought leader because you have no new thoughts. You are working with old data that needs to be updated.
Steve Jobs was right. The key to success in innovation AND sales is saying no.