Sales: It’s Nothing Personal
A salesperson who works for one of my company’s primary vendors – someone who happens to be a former coworker and a person I considered to be a friend – just lost a bid with my company. The vendor had held this business for the past several years and we were nearing the end of the latest multi-year agreement.
While the successful bidder’s price was a 20% discount to what we were paying (and a 35% discount to the incumbent’s best and final offer for the proposed agreement), the primary reason we decided to make a change was the deteriorating level of support and innovation the incumbent has been providing over the course of this latest contract.
It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.
By rejecting the incumbent’s bid, we were not rejecting the salesperson (we’ll call him Rich). Interestingly, Rich is taking it personally. In fact, he’s become an invisible man since the day we made our decision. Why is he taking it so personally? I ran into Rich a couple of days ago (we live in the same town) and even though it’s been a month since we chose his competitor, Rich was short and cold with me. What happened to the warm friendship we had as coworkers and as buyer/seller?
Why I Became a Sales Manager
When I was a commissioned salesperson, I rocked. Not to brag, but I routinely sold double what the second best salesperson at my company sold. I sold like crazy and I made a whole bunch of money… and I was miserable. I was miserable, because even if I had a 50% closing ratio, which I generally did not, half of all my prospects told me “no.”
I took it personally. I’ve always believed in my product so much that when someone rejected it, it must mean that I had done a lousy job of explaining it to them. “How could anyone not buy this?” I would wonder. I decided that if I was going to stay in sales, I would have to move to management.
It takes a special kind of person to be a happy and successful salesperson. You have to be smart, quick-witted (not the same as smart), ballsy, lack a certain amount of pride and be willing to taste defeat more often than victory. Most importantly, you cannot take it personally when someone tells you “no.”
I assume it will take a few months, but eventually this former friend will become a friend again. I’ll have to set a reminder in my calendar to be sure and tell Rich what an ass he was back when he lost our business, and how he shouldn’t take it personally – it’s just business.