I was backed against a wall. Nowhere to escape. I was
stuck and I knew what was coming next. He approached with his cheeseburger-breath
and his all-knowing smile…
“Kevin, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Sales is just a
numbers game. Nothing more and nothing less.”
So said one of my least favorite bosses. I cringed at the thought of his
next statement which would no doubt be something about throwing mud against a
Okay, I’ll admit, in one sense, he was right about selling being a numbers
game. You do need to measure your work. But that’s not what he meant. In his
view, “selling as a numbers game” meant you spent less time focused on the
quality of what you were doing and more time focused on the quantity.
That never worked for me.
I always preferred to focus my selling efforts on people who had an interest
in what I could do for them. Rather than trying to sell what we sold to anyone
and everyone, I took the time to think about what we did and how it helped
people. Then I targeted my efforts toward people who might have a greater
likelihood of becoming a customer.
My boss hated that. “Just throw the mud and see what sticks” he’d growl.
Surprisingly, I still see a lot of this today. As a consultant and a
consumer, I am constantly amazed at how many companies just “throw mud” without
much thought about who they’re contacting and why.
And today, this is a recipe for disaster. Customers get annoyed. Sales people
get burned out. Marketing budgets get hammered. And the results are poor at
So, to make all your marketing (and specifically your selling) more
effective, remember these simple steps:
1. Know what you do better than anyone else.
2. Identify who wants what you do and whom you can serve better than anyone
3. Create a message that tells people how you help them. Put it in terms they
will understand and be interested in.
4. Decide how to deliver your message. Sales people, ads, mailings, website,
emails, press releases. And – commit specific resources (time and money) to delivering your message.
5. Measure your actions and your results. This helps you see what is working
and what is not.
Focus your sale efforts on people who are likely to want what you do. Make
your message and conversations about them. You’re in business to help people get
what they want.
Selling is not a numbers game. It’s a people game.