Myth #1: Selling is a Numbers Game
“Selling is a numbers game.” You have undoubtedly heard this popular, weather-beaten career-changing sales advice before. Make the calls, make the presentations, work your way through enough people, and eventually, you will make a sale. I’m not saying this is totally false, but raw volume does not necessarily produce success. And even if it does, it’s the hard way.
Rather than thinking of sales as a game of large numbers, I want you to begin to think of sales as a game of darts. By aiming your effort (the dart) at a clearly defined target (your pre-qualified prospect dartboard) your chances for hitting the mark (a sale) are greatly enhanced. Contrast that mindset with a pure numbers game, where you buy a lottery ticket or throw a handful of marbles up in the air hoping one or two lands in a paper cup.
If you want to save yourself a lot of time, money, and frustration, know who you would like to do business with. That’s right. I want you to define your target audience. Your chance for success is much higher if you direct your efforts conscientiously toward a list of defined prospects. This concept is known as “Target Marketing.”
To explain the concept I will refer to the process as “bracketing.” Bracketing is a systematic approach of zeroing in on a designated target. Let’s use a golfing example of bracketing in action. During a Merrill Lynch corporate golf outing I attended in Tucson, Arizona, Al Geiberger was the guest PGA golf professional. He was positioned on a par 3 hole as each foursome of company representatives played on through. Al’s job as a guest pro was to hit the fifth shot on behalf of the team to see if he could score a hole in one.
Prior to the first group arriving at the designated hole, I saw Al hit a single shot to check the distance, wind, and range. (He was firing his first shot to get a lay of the land.) This initial attempt fell a little short and to the left of the flagstick. Mr. Geiberger mentally recorded the results. After making a few mental and mechanical adjustments he hit a second ball and watched its flight. This time the ball landed a little long and to the right of the flagstick. Again, he adjusted his mechanics. His third shot was pin high and left. After making the final adjustment, his fourth shot was right on the money. After mentally recording and locking in the swing mechanics for shot #4, he could then duplicate the shot, impressing the bejeebers out of each passing foursome. Al was within six feet of the pin for the rest of the afternoon.
This is how bracketing works — a trial and error, adjustment setting exercise designed to zero in on a given target. Bracketing in sales works the same way. First, you have to lob some effort in the direction of a specific goal (your specified prospects). Then, watch what happens, make an adjustment, and try it again. Keep on tweaking until you have a method that results in the prospect becoming a client.
While I have your attention, here is a sales exercise you can experiment with. Make a list of five qualified prospects you would like to do business with.
Next, write down three ways you can improve awareness of your products or services among these prospects. (For ideas on awareness programs, see the chapter in Section 5 titled How To Increase Your Visibility.) Initiate the awareness program and record your results from the first round attempt. Now, make your necessary adjustments to the program and try again (either on the same five prospects or on a new set of five). Record and adjust again. Continue until you are, as the pros say, in the zone. Finally, apply your refined method to a new group of targeted prospects.
One caution: Bracketing will not necessarily work with prospects you have not qualified. Try this and you are really back to the old lottery numbers game. Trying to bracket unqualified prospects is like Al Geiberger trying to drop his shot near the hole when the winds gust on and off up to 40 miles per hour and come from a different direction at any given time. Likewise, unscreened prospects are coming from all different directions in terms of what they want and need. You’ll miss the green and get discouraged.
Let others waste their time chasing raw numbers. Identify your target using the system I describe in Section 2 and then use bracketing to become successful by design. There will be very little luck to your sales campaign.