Words & Sports

Why You Should Keep Shooting When It Comes to Sales

In basketball, a valuable player who is missing a lot of shots is often told to keep shooting. Because eventually, the rough patch will end.

Last March, before March Madness took off, we talked about the 6 ways to get on a hot streak. Now with college basketball back in full swing, it’s a great time to focus on a key point of that article and expound on it.

Keep shooting.

The key point here is that activity wins the day, no matter what field you are in. You have to do something to accomplish anything. Let’s say you are in sales. How you work depends on what you are selling and who you are selling to, but there is one constant—you need to call on a lot of people. Whether by phone or by email, whether you schedule a meeting or just knock on a door, the number of people you contact is proportional to your success.

There’s an old rule of thumb in life insurance circles: for every ten people you call, three will be interested and one of those three will buy. Now, that’s just a loose average, not everybody has exactly the same success rate, but you get the idea.

So, let’s say you call on ten people and nobody buys. So, you keep going. Now, you’re 0-20. Okay, it happens. Now, you’re 0-30, and this is getting old. 0-40, and you start wondering if you’re in the wrong profession. 0-50….

What do you do? Well, besides study, ask questions, watch others, practice, and so on. If you have read this far, you already know the answer.

Keep shooting!

Cold streaks happen, just like hot streaks, by simple chance. Sometimes you’ll get a couple of misses in a row, and later you’ll get a run of success. All of these “streaks” end eventually, but I’ve seen too many young salespeople quit because they got discouraged by a cold streak. If they’d just kept going, maybe they would have become the Kobe Bryant of sales. People say he shot too much, but they also say he is one of the greatest players ever. He won 5 NBA Championships. He kept shooting.

Sure, there are people in sales who shouldn’t be. If you’re one of them, that’s ok. Now you know, and you can go do something else. And even if you are in the right business, success depends on working hard and doing the right things—you need to see the right people (like a basketball player has to take good shots), you need to ask them to buy, and you need to know your craft. But most importantly, you need to keep shooting.

You will have “off “days. You will have “off” years. But if you keep shooting, you will give yourself a chance to take advantage when you are “on” again.


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Image of the  Boston University Terriers at Northeastern University Huskies  was taken by Eric T under the Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License