If you fail two out of every three at-bats in the Major League, you’ll end up in the Hall of Fame. If you fail 90% of the time as a venture capitalist, you’ll end up being a multi-millionaire—possibly a billionaire.
So, why are salespeople afraid to fail? And why do sales managers often berate a salesperson when they fail? If you’re never failing, then you’re probably never winning either. We tell our team to take risks and explore new opportunities, but are we reiterating that embracing failure is actually good for business?
It’s our responsibility to encourage our people to be bold, ambitious, and to push themselves without the fear of failure.
We need to be like X (formally Google X), where they actually reward people for failing fast! If you are not familiar with X, it was founded in 2010 by Google as a research and development firm that creates radical new technologies to solve some of the world’s hardest problems.
At X, the faster you fail, the better. As crazy as it seems, the theory is that most projects will eventually fail, so the sooner they realize that a project won’t succeed, the faster they can move on to their next project that can succeed. Highlighting failing moments when they happen helps ensure this mindset becomes an active part of the sales culture you’re building.
When you think about it, this process sounds a lot like prospecting, right?
If you target 10 new prospects, even the best AE will only get an appointment with two or three. That means that 70-80% of their “projects” fail. So, the sooner they can get to the next round of new target accounts, the better!
Sales managers and salespeople need to start looking at prospecting, much like X looks at their projects. We’re going to fail 80% of the time, let’s do it FAST and move to our next one!
3 Ways to Fail Fast and Get to the Prospects That Will Succeed Quickly
Be a Category Killer
By focusing on a category of potential prospects, you become an expert in the field. You can use your knowledge to create valid business reasons that will land you a first-time needs analysis. You can also create a sales play for that category that you can use and reuse for all of your prospects in your category, allowing you to move quickly from one prospect to the next.
Hit Hard and Fast
Research shows that the average prospect responds to a salesperson after 7 to 9 engagements. Therefore, you need to reach out to each prospect a lot in a short amount of time to really make an impact. We recommend 7 to 9 attempts (emails, phone calls, etc.) in a 10-business day window.
Lead with Insights
Prospects today need to be impressed to give you any chance of getting an appointment. By leading with insights, you will demonstrate your knowledge of their business and, hopefully, intrigue them enough to respond to your outreach. Think about offering category research, trends, success stories, or even a client referral.
Don’t be afraid to fail! Embrace the fact that sales is tough and failure is part of the process. Be prepared to fail fast, so that you can get to your next prospect that will succeed!