Personal Stories: You lost a sale, now what?

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Sales can be a pain, and emotionally draining. See how one entrepreneur got through an exceptionally tough sales experience and what he learned.

This story is shared with permission from Jameson Treseler, CEO of Crunchy Links

Sales can be a pain. And I love sales. I mean it’s something I fantasize about and day dream about. That’s just me. But as in love as I am with sales, sometimes it can hurt worse than a baseball bat to the kidneys (not that I know what that actually feels like). 

Last night was one of those nights. After reaching out to about 50 or so potential customers and hearing back from 2 (4% response rate – actually not bad for cold emailing), I was able to set up a meeting with a business woman running a creative agency.

We agreed to meet at 10pm my time since she was in Asia.  About an hour and a half before our meeting she emails asking to chat immediately. So, trying to be the accommodating salesperson I am, I agreed. Handing my infant daughter off to Nanny (grandma), I sprinted up to our bedroom we turned into an office. 

Called once… nothing. Called twice… nothing. Emailed twice… nothing. Left a voicemail… nothing. Finally around 10:30pm (half an hour after we were originally supposed to meet) she finally calls back. We get into the meeting, I make my pitch, ask her about her needs, and everything is lining up. So we go to the demo. Everybody loves the demo. Normally, the demo kills. Customers love the data behind it, the layout, everything. 

But here’s where the sale went off the rails. We ended up spending another 2 hours dissecting the demo, me trying to close the deal as midnight rolled around and her still going strong. Asking why we didn’t have this feature, or that feature. Finally (thankfully), after 2 hours of dissection, we reach the end. 

But instead of closing the deal, I’m left with: “I wouldn’t pay $150 a month for this. It’s not worth it. I’m surprised you decided to launch so early with such a limited product. I wouldn’t have done that.” 

Shoot me. 

I couldn’t believe that try as I might I ended up “wasting” (at the time that’s how I felt) 2 hours and precious time with my daughter that I don’t normally get . All for nothing. 

Then almost immediately it hit me – about as fast as the frustration did. This is life as an entrepreneur. It was a stark reminder that when you’re starting something from nothing – no funding, no brand recognition, no big name customers – you have to eat dirt. A lot of it. In order to break through. 

And here’s the thing. If you love it, if you’ve dreamt about being an entrepreneur and you’re actually doing it – taking calls, making sales, developing a product – you’re playing with house money. Enjoy the dirt. The money and the sales aren’t the reward. The dirt is. 

As startup founders, we need to have the same mindset as a kid playing in the mud – new clothes completely ruined, rain pouring down hard, and mom yelling “you’re going to get sick!” in the background. The kid already has his reward – having fun in the mud – in the moment. That’s entrepreneurship. So next time you lose a sale, keep that in perspective. And then we can implement a plan to win back that lost customer (if we want to). 

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