There are many differences between those who succeed and those who struggle. However, there is one difference that dominates the list, and this single factor may be the root cause of the others. The difference in succeeding and struggling is what you believe about the root cause of your challenges.
Nothing Is My Fault
Those who struggle believe that nothing is their fault. Instead, they assign blame to external factors. You think the external factors are intractable, and because this is true, your challenges are outside both your control and your influence. If there is nothing you can do to improve your results, you cannot be expected to do better. In sales, here is what struggling looks like:
- The Client Ghosted Me: Your client may go dark and ghost you for good and valid reasons that have nothing to do with you. When this is true, you hear from them later, and usually, after you have chased them across time and space. More often, however, they ghost you because of the experience of your previous interactions. If you didn’t create enough value to earn the right to a next meeting, one way not to have to tell you directly is to ghost you. Those who struggle believe they couldn’t be to blame for their client going dark.
- The Client Wants Low Price: There is some percentage of the population that places the most significant weight on price when they evaluate all the factors. The population of people who buy this way is relatively small. While the price is always going to be a factor, how you handle conversations about investments is the more likely reason your client went with a lower price. If you didn’t disclose your higher price early on, using it as an advantage, justifying the delta between your price and lower-priced competitors, the client is not to blame.
- The Client Won’t Return My Call: If a client doesn’t return your call, they may have good reasons for not doing so. They could be busy, and they may have been pulled into something so important that put you on hold without communicating that to you. You may have also given your prospective client a good reason not to call you back. Maybe you called to “check-in,” indicating you have no real value to trade for their time. Perhaps you want to follow up on the email you sent, the one that your client read and deleted or archived weeks ago. You are the person responsible for providing enough value in trade for the time you are requesting.
- The Client Won’t Meet with Me: It is possible to pretend that your dream client doesn’t meet with salespeople. It certainly protects your ego. But when someone else books a meeting with that same contact, you can be confident it wasn’t the contact that changed. It’s challenging to sell a meeting, let alone a series of meetings. If you cannot make a case for a meeting that compels the contact to give you their time, the source of the weak value prop, the lack of confidence, or the persistence is not the client.
- My Competitor Lowballed Me: Just as some clients value the lowest price, some companies cater to their needs. There is no doubt your competitor undercut you, and there is also no doubt you knew that they would. That’s their business model. However, their low price is not why you lost. The competitor is not responsible for the fact that you didn’t create enough of a compelling reason to pay more.
The root cause is not often external factors. Believing that you are not responsible is debilitating. You can believe what you want, but you are not free from the consequences of those beliefs.
Everything Is My Fault
While those who struggle work to absolve themselves of responsibility, those who succeed believe that they are to blame, that they could have done something different, and that they will eventually find a way to create the outcome they didn’t obtain.
- The Client Ghosted Me: I lost control of the process. I didn’t sell the meeting well enough. I didn’t do as well as I needed to during the interactions we had up to this point. I need to ask for a do-over and find a way to restart this process. If you believe it’s your fault, you are empowered to act.
- My Client Wants the Lowest Price: This is always true until it isn’t. I should have done a better job explaining how paying more helps them. At some point, a better salesperson is going to convince them to pay a little more to solve their problems, and it’s going to be me. I can quantify the expense of not doing this, and eventually, they are going to get it. When you believe you are to blame, you have a large part of the problem solved.
- The Client Won’t Return My Call: I am chasing them. I need to vary my messages. I am going to send them a text message, and if that doesn’t work, I will stop by and see if I can meet with them. If you believe you are responsible for persisting over time, you will keep trying new approaches until you succeed.
- The Client Won’t Meet with Me: I haven’t yet found their hot button, but I will eventually. The value I am trying to trade isn’t resonating with them, but I will find a new theory that will work. There is nothing negative about acknowledging your failures, but there is something wrong with not doing something different.
- My Competitor Lowballed Me: I knew they were going to do that. I should have poisoned the well and explained the difference between our business models. I should have explained why my competitors were going to have a lower price and how it would cost them more. I am going to make this case now, so I am better positioned when my competitor fails. You can learn from your mistakes and improve your future results.
When you believe that you are responsible for the responses you get from your clients, you empower yourself to make the necessary adjustments to improve your results. If you want to go from struggling to succeeding, this is your path.