One of my favorite sayings is, “Luck favors the prepared.”
I played poker for a long time, both for fun and professionally. And sure, there’s luck involved. But it’s more about statistics and psychology than the “luck of the draw.” That’s why being prepared by knowing the math, learning about people’s typical actions and tells, and things like that are so important.
Preparation is far more important than luck ever will be. Hence, my favorite saying.
Needless to say, it applies in sales and business too, just in a slightly different context. I didn’t really realize this until a call I had a while back…
I’d just hung up from this great call; I did absolutely everything correct:
- Set good expectations
- Asked great questions
- Qualified them on every point and objection I knew
After wrapping up, I felt odd about it. It seemed too good to be true.
I had done my homework; all the roleplay practice, journaling, and studying were starting to pay off.
I’d done everything I could to have the best call possible. And I was finally in a place where I was fine if the next call with this prospect ended with a ‘no.’ A yes would be even better, but I’d finally gotten to the point where the outcome wasn’t something I focused on. (Seriously, stop focusing on the results. Only focus on what you can control.) Either way, I knew there was nothing else I could have done to make the conversation better.
I wasn’t lucky that they said yes. That was the outcome of being prepared.
I wasn’t lucky that the call went well. The time I’ve spent practicing sales conversations and studying people’s personalities allowed me to direct and nurture a successful call.
I did get lucky with the fact that this particular prospect had pain I could solve, a budget that lined up with our pricing, and saw value in working the way that we worked.
But even that luck was still earned.
Because of the knowledge I had built up and the work I put in to know how and when to use it, I was able to figure out those needs that I could fulfill for them.
So, at the end of the day, there was a little luck involved.
But there was even more preparation.
For most salespeople, you can prepare for every step of the sales process. For those that can’t, the ones who are handed lists to cold call and monitored to make sure you’re reading directly from a script, I’m sorry. You have to count on luck and hours of mindless repetition.
For the rest of us, while we can’t control whether or not our prospects say yes, there are lots of other things we can control.
- Identify your target market and figure out their general needs
- Study personalities and conversation styles so that you can build trust and rapport with anybody
- Know common objections and handle them before you even pitch
- Roleplay with colleagues or friends to prepare for any curveballs a prospect might throw your way
- Practice asking the more uncomfortable questions so that you come off authentically and sympathetically to your prospects
And so on.
Some salespeople, the lone wolf types, they can get on the horn with anybody or knock on any door and close the deal. No preparation, no plan. Just wheelin’ and dealin’.
But most of us don’t do well with that strategy. I highly doubt most of them do in the long run.