Hope is not a Sales Strategy

Salespeople by nature are a very optimistic bunch. Talk to and work with enough sales types over time and you will see the pattern. Part territorial, part optimistic, even part instinctive, salespeople around the globe always believe they are going to get the sale. Let's put it this way, if the optimism matched the end results, the quota would never be an issue. I think this optimism is sometimes a little misguided for some of the parts I have listed above. The opposite attitude or mood, that of pessimism is of course a nonstarter for a salesperson with any notion of being successful. I have had a few sales leaders who feasted on this trait, the result of which was them dragging down the organization and their groups.

Often, I would speak to sales representatives in the course of my role and I would ask them where they were in the sales process with an account. I would normally hear something like, "I called last week, left them a message and I hope to hear from them this week." It was probably more a figure of speech for the rep to indicate they were hoping for a call, lots of people say this, so what does it really mean?

Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on the expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in a person's life or in this case their sales situation. It is a classic emotion of a salesperson in an effort to predict a positive outcome to a situation they are involved in. The real question that I should have been asking was not where someone was in the sales process but what have you done in the sales process that would lead you to believe that a call was forthcoming. So many times, as salespeople our actions and input to a sales process don't match the expected outcome. Can you really expect to get a call back from someone where you have not given them sufficient reason to make that call, and where there is no benefit from them doing so? Are we just hoping the call is returned and if we make enough calls playing the averages, we'll get a response or two? Or do we believe we have truly done enough to warrant that callback?