When thinking about business development and sales and marketing, success and failure is a very fine line.  The smallest thing can be the difference between a win or a loss.  I’ve talked about the amount of failure that comes with being in this line of work.  For nearly all of your life, you’ll be a failure.  Scary to think of, but absolutely true.

Your small amount of success outweighs your failures by the thousands, but you still fail most of the time.  You have be okay with that.

“Why is it so hard?”  “Why do you fail so much?”  “What is the magic sauce?”  “What is the golden ticket?”  “Please tell me!”  “My boss is on my back again!”

Why sales is so hard is because everything has to align perfectly between having the right person at the right place at the right time with the right message.


Scenario one: You have found the right decision maker by studying annual reports, setting all the alerts for industry news, digging into LinkedIn profiles, and you heard from a guy that this is the person.  You find out that they prefer e-mail over calls or texts or letters.  You know they are really interested in learning about service X, because their boss has made it a priority for the company to make some changes.  Instead of reaching out in May when they are expecting the message, you reach out in March because your boss says you need the revenue right now.  Your message is on-point in a perfectly crafted e-mail about service X that isn’t too wordy and hits all the high points they are looking for.  Guess what?  You aren’t getting that business.  No matter how good your service is or your message is.  You sent that message way too early and they’ll never respond to that e-mail because they are way too busy in March and they’ll forget about you in May.

Scenario two: Again, you have found the right decision maker.  This time you have no idea how they like to communicate, so you just vomit all of your information across all the channels you can think of: e-mail, social media, smoke signals, direct mail, and pigeon courier.  The message reaches their inbox in May as you know that’s when they are looking for the information and their busy season is now over.  Your message is on-point and perfectly outlines how you are going to impact their company’s bottom line and experience.  Guess what?  You didn’t get the business, because it turns out this person likes the old-fashioned phone call and all outside vendor e-mails and messages go to their junk file.

Scenario three: Nevermind.  You get the idea.

What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t beat yourself up over every failure, because the chances of you getting any business from any one ever, is about 1% of 1% of 1%.  The chances of you reaching out to the right person at the right place at the right time with the right message is so small that not even the best of the best get it right a good amount of the time.

How can you improve on that small win percentage?  Learn everything you can about that first piece of the equation: get the right person.  If you don’t have the right person, you’ll never win.  If you have the right person, you can start to learn what type of messages those people want to hear.  You can start to learn how and where they interact.  Lastly and sometimes the hardest to truly understand in a volatile economy, you can understand the typical business cycle of those people and when they are looking to learn and when they are looking to buy.

Take your time.  Do your research.  Don’t beat yourself up if you know you have the right person but your timing or message or communication channel isn’t right yet.  Keep plugging away and that win percentage will start to climb.

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