One of the scariest things any of us can do is go into an unknown situation where the stakes are high. Where rejection is likely. Where success and failure are on the line.
Yet, that’s exactly what we’re asked to do as salespeople every day: Introduce ourselves to strangers and still accomplish our mission.
When I was in Iraq, I was able to see US Marines enter high-stakes situations as they fought house to house in places like Fallujah. A decade later, I saw there was a lot in common with those Marines and the salespeople I worked alongside.
Both were responsible for kicking down doors, but US Marines had a much higher success rate.
High-performing troops would never think about entering a high-stakes situation without a plan, but it’s exactly what most salespeople do. And it’s why the first sign of trouble like an objection, brush off or outright rudeness will stop them and their sales cold.
To learn how we could adapt the techniques Marines use to kick down doors with what high-performing salespeople do, we sat down with Alex Schlinksy, a sales trainer and consultant who understands that if we fail to plan when we’re kicking down doors, we’re planning to fail.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To trigger a system to use before we ‘kick down the door’ of a prospect and conduct outreach, Alex recommends first ensuring mindset is handled. We need to understand that no one will be shooting at us once we call or knock on their door. The worst that can happen is to be hung up on or have a door closed on us.
Reminding ourselves there’s no physical harm involved is critical because talking to strangers triggers the same parts of our brain that fire in any anxious situation.
The next part of this trigger is to understand what you’re trying to achieve with your outreach – and it isn’t always to sell something. Instead, Alex mentioned it’s also important to use your outreach to build a math equation, so you know how many doors you’ll have to knock on in the future to drive a certain number of meetings, and to track how many meetings result in a sale.
Sometimes, simply knowing that you’re X number of calls or site visits away from a ‘tell me more is enough to get us to keep going in the face of rejection.
R – Repeatable: The first part of what you’re doing during outreach or ‘door kicking’ happens before you make contact. According to Alex, it’s critical that we remind ourselves what problem(s) our product or service solves and how much time/money it saves. What is the positive impact clients experience when working with you?
Next, map out how you’re going to discover what success looks like to the person you’re reaching out to. We don’t want to try and figure this out while we’re in the middle of a cold call. Instead, have an idea of how your product/service improves the lives and businesses of your clients and develop questions that reveal what that looks like to the prospect.
– Improvable: To improve this system, track the reasons you’re being shut down. Is it price? Value? By asking your prospects why they didn’t buy, you’ll be able to improve the questions you’re asking and the stories you’re telling to ensure the next doors you knock on stay open for you.
M – Measurable: To measure the effectiveness of this system, Alex says that we should be measuring not just the number of doors we knock on, or even the reasons we lost a sale or were shut down, but the number of times we lost a sale for the same reason. That reason will reveal where we should focus first in improving how we’re introducing ourselves, getting a prospect’s attention, and discovering more about them and their goals.
Kicking down doors is a science in the military, and it can be a sales system that ensures your initial contact not only gets you in the door. Instead, it can get you a partnership with your prospects to make both of you successful