Sandler Training: Can’t Lose If You Don’t Play

Do any of these scenarios seem familiar?

Bill knew he should do some prospecting, but it was getting near the end of the week. Heck, he thought, most of the people I’d call will be thinking about the weekend. Might as well put it off until Monday. Or actually, Tuesday would be better. On Monday I’m sure there will be a ton of stuff on their desks, and they definitely won’t have time for me. Yeah, hit them on Tuesday between 10 and 12. That’s the ticket. But maybe mid-afternoon would be better. I’ll have to think about that over the weekend.

Jane, the sales manager for a sales force of 24, knew she could increase sales if only everyone followed the same sales strategy. With this in mind and the blessing of upper management, she had scheduled all of the salespeople to attend a mandatory week-long sales training session. Once that happens, she decided, then we can really start turning some numbers. Now all she wondered about was how to make sure that no one wiggled out of the mandatory meeting. She had, over the past day, decided on the steps to take if someone tried.

Nick, during the past two months, had watched his sales slide into a black hole. At first he figured it was the competition from across town that was causing it, but now he wondered. He was spending more time than ever before with prospects and former customers, actually tons of time, and with poor results. He was losing them all. “What am I doing wrong?” he wondered. I chat them up, and they dump me. All that time I spend with them and nothing happens.

All three examples above perfectly portray “not starting.” If you don’t start the sale, you can’t lose the sale. And losing is defined by 90% of the salespeople as “not getting the sale” or to put it another way, “I got a no.” Instead of dealing with the emotions associated with failure, it is avoided altogether. It may feel better, but it doesn’t bring success to the business or the sales professional.

Getting a “no” is not losing. Getting a “no” is success. Getting a “no” allows you to go out and find a “yes.” There are hundreds of ways to avoid “starting,” and every one of them will seem perfectly reasonable at the time. Bill wanted to make sure that his prospecting was done in a way to get the best results. He was convinced he was approaching it correctly. Result: No prospecting until next week. And, does next week ever arrive? Jane truly believed that once everyone attended the sales training, sales would go up. Until that meeting happened she had decided to focus on getting people to show up. Result: No sales were expected in the meantime. But Jane was doing her job. Nick felt that he should concentrate on establishing rapport with prospects. He believed that the more rapport he established, the higher the likelihood of a sale. Result: Since all he was doing was establishing rapport, he never got around to selling.

Just for the moment consider that you are a baseball player. You can take batting practice for weeks. But anything you hit during practice doesn’t count. The only thing that counts is standing at the plate during a game. Fortunately for the baseball player, he is eventually forced to stand at the plate and do something. Unfortunately, salespeople are not forced to “stand at the plate” and do something. Short of running out of money and not being able to pay bills, salespeople and sales managers will have the best reasons in the world to avoid playing. How do you play more often than not? By recognizing those behavior patterns that fill up your sales time but do nothing for you. Write down how many hours you work a month. Now, for a full month keep track of the work you do, and how much time you spend doing it. Then decide if you are “playing” or just “practicing.”

Play often! The sooner you get a “no,” the sooner you can get the “yes.”

Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies. For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at You can also follow his blog at