Sales Warfare: Love to Win or Hate to Lose?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 05, 2015 @ 10:01 AM


Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Happy New Year, everyone.

I hope you had an opportunity to recharge, review, and look ahead.  During the break, in addition to spending quality time with my family, I listened to music, read four books, watched some movies together, went to 3 shows, and saw Unbroken.  The common thread among concerts, books, shows, and movies is whether or not they are memorable.  For me, memorable refers to whether or not I will remember a book, show, movie, scene, passage, chapter, event, line or moment - years later.

I'm sure you have some of those memories too.  I remember a Rod Stewart concert from 10 years ago when he stopped a song about 20 seconds in and said he had "f****d it up" and wanted to start over.  I also remember a Michael Franks concert from 27 years ago when he thanked the audience for helping his album reach Gold, and admitted that it was probably because we all purchased both the vinyl record and then the CD, thereby doubling his sales.

There was a very memorable line in Unbroken:  "If you can take it, you can make it."

As is always the case, these memorable moments got me thinking about memorable selling moments and that led to some interesting insights about motivation...

Can you remember your most memorable sales calls?  Your most memorable wins?  Your most memorable losses?  

Last month, while training a sales team, I asked if they loved to win or hated to lose.  Everyone raised their hand in response to love to win.  I challenged them to reconsider.  In my case, as well as most top sales performers, the many wins are nice - very nice - but the losses, especially because there are so few of them - make me angry.  I remember them, learn from them, and make sure I don't repeat the mistakes that led to a loss.  Yes, it is always my fault when there is a loss.  A top performer will always take responsibility and learn from it.

So do you love to win or hate to lose?

I think it was Jimmy Connors, the championship tennis player, who is most famous for saying he hated to lose.  On the other hand, it only takes a single tennis or golf victory to see how glorious it is to win a championship.  But that's a win of a totally different type.

I remember the awards for winning, but not most of the winning moments.  I think that's because I expect to get the business, so the win meets my expectations, while a loss catches me by surprise and causes an emotional reaction.

It's very important to know which outcome - winning or losing - is more motivating for you and your salespeople.  If it's winning, then the strategy can be traditional - how to win the deal or account and how great you will feel upon winning.  If it's losing, then the strategy should be an opposite strategy, based on how you will feel if you lose and how to prevent that outcome.

It really doesn't matter whether winning or losing motivates you more, but it is important to know and understand how you are motivated. 

LeadTrigger has published its book of 2015 Sales Predictions.  You can download your copy here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, winning sales, losing sales

Sales Force Motivation - Learn From the Red Sox Miraculous Comeback

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 17, 2008 @ 17:10 PM

By now most of you probably know that the Boston Red Sox pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Post Season Baseball history, coming back from a 7-0 deficit in the 7th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-7.  But as exciting as that was, the story is about the fans.

If you observed the Tampa Bay fans during game 1 in St. Petersburg and game five in Boston, you would have observed some very tense, anxious people.  Yet if you paid any mind to the Red Sox fans in the three games they lost and prior to their comeback in game 5, they didn't seem very upset at all.

Those worried, upset Tampa Bay fans looked just like the Red Sox fans did in 2003 and 2004, when the Red Sox hadn't won a world series in 86 years.  But now that they have won two world series in the past four years, the fans were calm, they've been there.

When salespeople have plenty of opportunities and have experienced plenty of difficult sales cycles, it's not such a big deal when an important opportunity dies.  But if it's a salesperson that has very few quality opportunities or one who hasn't experienced very many deals that went sour, they react - badly - by getting quite emotional, discouraged, and upset.

The cure? Have your salespeople stuff the pipeline.  Prospect like hell. Work those opportunities.  The weak opportunities may die away but there will always be good ones on which to focus.  And don't discount the possibility that even the deadest of opportunities could miraculously come back from the dead.  Especially in big companies where the decision makers leave for greener pastures and get replaced with executives who do want to do business with you!

This can be a discouraging time.  It's important to keep your salespeople motivated and the best way to do that is to keep them busy.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales, selling, discouragement, Pipeline, sales cycle, frustration, winning sales, losing sales

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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