In his recent HBR blog, Why the Best Salespeople Get So Lucky, author Joel Le Bon asserts that there are tangible benefits to sales professionals believing in the role of “luck” in their sales success. Even more valuable than a belief in the power of luck are the specific behaviors he identifies for creating one’s own luck, and in turn, one’s sales success. Here is a summary:
1. Gathering competitive intelligence – The more insight you possess about customers, prospects, competitors and the market, in general, the more likely you are to “happen upon” pertinent information. It may feel “lucky,” but prolific research is the precursor to noticing relevant news and mining useful intelligence.
2. Striving for mindfulness – Building on the insight that comes with ongoing research, sales professionals should remain focused on customers’ objectives and alert to what is going on within the industry. Being mindful of the context surrounding the client will not only make you more intriguing to the client, but will also prepare you to act on unexpected opportunities.
3. Setting high goals – Ambitious goals keep sales professionals forward-looking. Goals that are far-reaching help to make us more creative, motivated and strategic.
4. Failing better – Failure is a fact of life in the sales profession, so it is important for us to remain positive in the face of failure. Set “failure goals,” such as being denied by X number of customers in a given day or month. Doing so recognizes the inevitability of failure within our broader sales efforts, and amidst successful sales outcomes.
5. Changing circumstances – Le Bon writes, “In sales, opportunities lie not among the people you know but among those you don’t.” He suggests getting out of your routines and comfort zone, meeting new people, doing new things, and expanding your network by going to unusual places and building new alliances.
Sales professionals may be reluctant to rely on “luck” because of its uncontrollable nature. What sales professionals can rely on, is a belief in provoked luck—the kind of luck that results from arming ourselves with a positive mindset and productive behaviors like those outlined above. This approach will influence whether uncontrollable events become “lucky” or “unlucky” occurrences in our sales life.