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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.

Frequently, I would speak to sales representatives in the course of my role and 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 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 when 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 will get a response or two? Or do we believe we have truly done enough to warrant that callback?

In my opinion, hope is worthless if you are leaving your sales process up to chance or a halfhearted attempt to engage a prospect. Interactions with prospects have to be well thought out for the product you are selling, with the features and benefits matching what the prospect's needs are. And if you are not that far in the sales process, then you have to make sure you are communicating the benefits you believe your product will deliver. You have to do your homework on the account to stimulate interest from the right person to make a buying decision. Develop your selling strategies wisely with plans. What time of the day you may call a prospect, or what method you will use to get in touch with them? Change this up constantly to keep your sales process fresh. If you are being persistent with a particular prospect, avoid jading them with a repetitive process of the same things over and over again, as they will lose their luster.

There are countless sales strategies to draw from with your prospects that will allow you to advance your sale. My particular favorite was to indicate to a prospect that I was not sure they were a good fit for our service, but I would do everything possible to find out if they were. I would watch as their faces could hardly believe what they were hearing. Did he just say we might not be a good fit? It used to remind me of a friend I had who once got into Disney for free by walking in backward. Now, that's a strategy. Whatever you do to be successful in sales, be sure to do enough. Be sure to work every possibility, angle, contact, and theory. These strategies will serve you well, but remember that no matter what you do, hope is not a sales strategy! It is an emotion.

Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $300 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at

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