ErikaWittlieb / Pixabay

Get any group of sales people together and we start exchanging war stories. Usually, they involve how we saved a deal, usually it’s at the last moment, usually it’s a huge noteworthy deal, and too often it involves a pricing action (“We sweetened the deal for them….”)

Listen to any sales kick-off speaker and, usually, there are a few stories about their own sales heroics—the big deals they won that got them to this stage.

I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun to exchange these stories, there’s always the friendly competition of “one-upping” each other. In the moment, there’s that Adrenalin rush that kicks in as you are doing everything possible to win the deal and the satisfaction (relief) when it works.

And we never talk about the heroic efforts that just didn’t work and we lost (what a buzz kill!).

The reality is, sales heroics are the result of errors and omissions on our part. If we did things right, we wouldn’t have to do them–at least so often.

Heroics become unnecessary if we do the right thing through our sales process.

If we engage the right customers focusing on the right issues.

If we are creating differentiating value through each interaction.

If we are constantly probing, testing to make sure they understand how we are can help them achieve their goals.

If we are constantly seeking to understand their attitudes toward us and the alternatives they are considering.

If we plan and prepare–both our overall strategy and for each call.

If we think, “what could go wrong, where can things go off the rails,” and execute to avoid that, or at least have a contingency plan to deal with it, if it happens.

As I talk to top performers, sure they have their own war stories, but often they are actually pretty boring. They know what they should be doing and they do it all the time. As a result, they seldom are forced to resort to heroic efforts.

Perhaps it’s time for each of us to spend a little time diagnosing our wins/losses over the past 18 months. What percentage of them required heroic efforts? Is there a pattern you see in things you are missing or poor execution?

To some degree, it reminds me of the Maytag repairman. They were seldom needed because nothing went wrong.

What if we started making sure we execute flawlessly? If we planned and anticipated, and were prepared for whatever might happen?