Early in my sales education, I learned that closing deals is almost always related to being in the right place at the right time. If I had a great pitch but was reaching out to the contact when she wasn’t in a buying cycle, the deal had no chance of closing. Conversely, I could give a bad pitch, but, if the contact was active in the market and needed to make a decision, I would still make the sale.
Seeing this correlation, I decided that luck played a huge part in sales. As a result, I tried to optimize for luck by increasing volume. I reasoned that, by contacting more people, I would reach more of them at the right time simply by chance.
It worked! I nearly doubled the size of my commission checks at my first job.
But I was exhausted.
Even worse, I still wasn’t the best sales guy on my team. Plus, the guys who were the best weren’t working nearly as hard as me.
Were they just more lucky than I was?
Luck isn’t a real thing, and great salespeople know it. Instead, great salespeople know how to put themselves in the right place at the right time.
In other words, by going through the standard motions of selling your product, an average salesperson occasionally gets lucky and connects with the right contact at the right time. But an exceptional salesperson is someone who constantly looks for signals from his contacts that are telling him: This is a sales-ready buyer… now is the time to send a message!
Once I realized this, I spent less time sending messages and more time looking for buying signals that would tell me when to send a message. The number of messages I sent went way down, and the number of deals I closed went way up. In a good month, I could triple the success rate I used to hit at the peak of my volume/luck sales approach.
I’m posting this story in case you’re a salesperson just like I was… a salesperson who relies a bit too much on luck and volume.
That’s not to suggest you’re a bad salesperson. In fact, salespeople who prioritize luck tend to be pretty good. But they’re never great.
Great salespeople don’t waste their time trying to get lucky. They create their own luck by learning how to reach out to the right people at the right time.