Your fingers tremble as you dial your potential client's phone number, your heart beats in quick-paced thuds as you wait for the line to pick up. Brrrring, brrring, brrring. "Hello?" You shuffle your notes in front of you, reminding yourself that you're ready for this one, and with a deep breath, you deliver your pitch. Then the dreaded words: "Thanks, but we're not interested." Click. Another deal bites the dust. Or does it?
Ask renowned corporate consultant and author of Make It Happen Before Lunch Stephan Schiffman what the most important part of business success is, and he'll tell you it's all about getting to the next step in your business relationships. But just how do you do that when you constantly run into so many "no" answers? We asked Schiffman, who has worked with companies like AT&T and Aetna U.S. Healthcare, to share his tips on how to reach the next step to turn rejection into profit.
Entrepreneur.com: You speak a great deal about developing a passion, an excitement and a confident attitude toward your business. Why is that such an important part of business success?
Stephan Schiffman: If you don't believe in your product, you're not going to be able to sell it. The number-one reason small businesses fail is lack of sales. It sounds ridiculous, but that's really what happens. If the entrepreneur doesn't really have a passion for the business, they're never going to be successful. They have to absolutely, positively believe that they're the best ever, or else they'll never ever get their product sold.
|"My objective is to come in every morning and say, 'What am I going to do today that is going to get me further ahead than yesterday?' I don't wait for something to happen; I make it happen."|
Entrepreneur.com: How do you maintain that energy in the face of "no" answers?
Schiffman: When you create your business plan, you have to be realistic about what your expectations are. Most people aren't realistic, and they really don't know how long it's going to take before they begin to make real money and they don't know how many rejections, "nos" and downtime they're going to have to go through. The concept is to look at your projections and say to yourself, "It's going to take me a year-and-a-half [to be successful]. And in that year-and-a-half, 150 people are going to say no to me, yell at me or whatever, but in spite of that, I'm going to make money." The problem is, nobody thinks about it that way; they always think it's going to happen right away. When I started my business 21 years ago, I knew I'd get clobbered every day, and I knew it was going to happen for six, seven or even eight months, but I didn't give up because I knew it would turn around.
Entrepreneur.com: What are some systems that entrepreneurs can easily incorporate into their business that will take them to the next step? Where should they begin?
Schiffman: The biggest issue is that most people sit down, have great discussions, but never ask, "What do we do next?" They don't suggest it, they don't ask it, and so the end result is that they never get to the next step. Half of getting to the next step is simply saying to somebody you're meeting with, "What do we do next? How can we work together?" People respond in kind. When you ask somebody about something, they're going to respond to that.
Entrepreneur.com: You encourage your readers to learn to love rejection. What benefits can entrepreneurs glean from rejections and losses?
Schiffman: I used to tape record my calls and listen to the people who said no to me. I then decided there had to be a better way. When I call someone, I pretty much know what they're going to say. So I asked myself, "Why am I waiting for them to say they're not interested?" Now I can actually say to someone, "I bet you're not interested," and they'll say "Yes, you're right." Then I say, "You know why? Because I haven't shown you this, this or this." All of a sudden, I have a different conversation.
Entrepreneur.com: What do you see as the single most valuable strategy an entrepreneur can have? What's the bottom line?
Schiffman: Make it happen. I have about 70 people who work for me, and I could be busy every single day with people just coming into my office. If I just sat here, inevitably, throughout the course of the day, everybody would come in and do business with me. But my objective is to come in every morning and say, "What am I going to do today that's going to get me further ahead than yesterday?" I don't wait for something to happen; I make it happen.
Entrepreneur.com: Any other advice for business owners who want to raise the bar on their level of success?
Schiffman: Small businesses tend to skip the process. You can't take shortcuts in business. Go through the process. Live the business, 24 hours, seven days a week. If you live the business, you're more apt to be successful than if you take a shortcut and try to get rich quick. That doesn't work.