There are so many ways that I want to end a business meeting and “we have AS GOOD A CHANCE as anybody” doesn’t fall into any of those ways. I make my living in a cold prospecting, hard targeting, get the meeting and push for the close kind of world. It isn’t easy. I have no complaints about being a saleswoman, those of you who have read my other posts know that I love the art of selling, but when you quantify the amount of time it can take to move a cold prospect to a purposeful meeting, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Chance for me loses its value become of its interchangeable relationship with luck and I can’t afford to stake my career on the traditional premise of being lucky. Thesaurus.com lists antonyms of chance as: designed, foreseeable, planned, and understood; this short list is the basis of Sales 101! Outside of the inherent traits, most salespeople learn from the beginning to plan, to design your path to success (your approach), to understand as much as possible about your client, target or industry and to forecast the potential outcomes so that you aren’t blindsided with too many unknowns. If you do all of those things, you won’t get left with a “hope” to get the business.
An owner of a firm that I once worked for didn’t like to hear a sales tale or prognostication based on “hope”. He would emphatically state that “hope are prayers unanswered”. It may seem harsh or even a bit cynical but when do you really want to rely on a stroke of good luck? If someone you loved had a pending surgery would you want the prognosis from the surgeon to include “well, if we’re lucky” or “we’ve got as good a chance?” I don’t! I want to hear honesty but I’d like his assessment to be done on the faith in his skill, previous outcomes from practice (planning) and the commitment that he’s going to make to achieve the desired outcome.
Unfortunately the expectation of luck is not a phenomenon. Lately, there has been an influx of tweets and statuses based on the virtue of luck. I find these quotes to be irresponsible when just sent to the masses! Most of the quotes that I’ve seen referencing luck ascribe it to working so hard that you position yourself for the opportunity; this is something that we have a responsibility to emphasize in our professional lives and personally yet there are many people who miss the true message behind the words. Luck is not a motivator nor is it an incentive, as a matter of fact if you have to rely on luck to get what you want you stop believing in the opportunity to be successful. Imagine being in an interview and having a benefit conversation that included, “if you’re lucky you may get a raise”. I’m sure that employer would experience more rejected offers than signed acceptance letters and the acceptance would be from the candidates of last resort, not the rock star.
By the same token, when you work for someone in a sales capacity or otherwise, they didn’t hire you for your ability to get lucky off of a gamble! The best employers want workers that can translate hard work to smart work. Who wants to hire the blind squirrel, happening upon a nut just enough to keep from starving through the winter when you could have the strategic hunter that goes out every day foraging for a better chance of eating well through the winter? Aesop’s fable of the grasshopper and the ant is the equivocation of the person “hoping to get lucky” and the other “creating their path”. The belief in chance only gave the grasshopper false expectations of his outcomes while the ant’s actions offered assurance. Who doesn’t like a sure thing?
For those who put in the legwork, luck will rear its elusive little head from time to time and it will be that much more gratifying because you’ll know that you actually generated it–you will have an appreciation for the moment while the ones who rely on luck will have short-lived gratification as they wait for the next bout to circle around.
My favorite quote regarding chance, circumstance or luck just happens to come from the CEO of Starbucks (go figure):
I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see And pursuing that vision.–Howard Schultz