Going All or Nothing

There was a time in my career when I needed money so badly that I desperately had to make the commissions on every sale. In the beginning, I lived paycheck to paycheck, and the food put on my table each week, the house payments, and the car payments depended directly on my sales production. It hurt badly when I’d lose a sale.

But in time, I could afford to let prospects walk out without buying, and no longer did I become physically ill when they didn’t buy. While I don’t remember the exact sales presentation when I felt so at ease, it was an important milestone in my career. Its significance was that I realized that no single prospect could make or break me. While this may not seem like a big deal to you, it was to me because I never again would sell scared. I finally had the security to know that I could risk losing sales and not be badly hurt.

I could afford to put the needed pressure on those people who said they’d be back when they decided to buy a car—and I’d no longer be afraid that I’d blow the sale by doing so. Even so, I never lost my motivation or hunger, or what some people refer to as a salesperson’s “killer instinct.” Believe me, my desire to close every sale remained intact.

In most sales careers, no single prospect is so important that if you don’t get his or her business, you will go bankrupt. A life insurance agent can lose a sale, and there are numerous other prospects to call on. When a stockbroker strikes out, he simply has to dial somebody else. I realize that here are some industries in which a salesperson has a given number of accounts, and if a major one is lost, the consequences are severe. In this case, losing just one account can even cost the rep his job. While these are the exceptions, I acknowledge that these situations exist.  If you happen to have a job of this nature, you better give such incredibly outstanding service that it’s unthinkable for anyone to even consider doing business elsewhere.

Always remember that you sell to make money—there’s no disgrace in earning big commissions. With this in mind, it’s important to try and generate orders large enough to make your work worthwhile. Sometimes it’s wise to have an all-or-nothing attitude and go for a large order even if it means risking losing the sale altogether. For instance, in the automobile business, after a commitment was made to buy a particular model at a rock-bottom price, I’d attempt to sell a few options to increase the size of an otherwise slim commission. In most cases, I’d turn the stripped down car into a large sale, and I honestly can’t remember ever losing a customer for trying, although not everybody went for the more equipped versions.

While lesser salespeople may think that applying pressure is unappreciated by customers, I have a different opinion. Some people have great difficulty in making up their minds. If a salesperson doesn’t give them that needed extra push, they’ll never make a buying decision. When I help people who can’t make up their minds to buy, I feel as though I’m performing a wonderful service. Always remember that your job as a salesperson is to do what’s right for your client—and this frequently includes a touch of friendly persuasion.

Finally, I want to emphasize that a fine line exists between using high pressure selling and closing a sale with finesse and diplomacy. When you sincerely have conviction in your product, service and company, and always act in the best interests of your customers, I believe they will feel comfortable with your guiding them to make buying decisions. It’s imperative to sell yourself, and while your customers don’t have to love you, they must not view you as offensive or rude. I believe they will feel comfortable with your forcefulness, in guiding them to make buying decisions. In my opinion, this is professional selling at its best.