The 13th Warrior: How to Combat Discouragement and Stay Motivated With One Simple Question

Do you ever get discouraged with your ‘apparent’ lack of results at the end of the day?

You do you ever feel overwhelmed and frustrated by how little was accomplished and how much there seems to be left to do? Does the thought of the next day on the phone fill you with dread?

Most tele-sales reps have felt this way at one time or another.  We all have.  Hopefully,  these feeling are more the exception than the rule.  But if you find yourself having these thoughts more often than not,  you could be on the verge of burning out and slipping into a sales slump.  Left unchecked this can have a heck of an impact on your sales efforts. Maybe even your job.

Combating Discouragement

Here’s how to combat discouragement and not let it get the better of you.  At the end of the day ask yourself this one question:

“What did I achieve today?”

Simple, isn’t it?  This question is extremely powerful because it literally FORCES you to THINK about your day and to itemize your accomplishments, big or small. For instance, you might review your day and say,

–          Sent  the proposal for ABC company

–          Sent 5 thank you notes

–          Got pricing approval from Mark on XYZ

–          Read a great article on Getting Past Gatekeepers

–          Actually got past 1 gatekeeper

–          Made 75 dials

–          Spoke to 11 decision makers

–          Got one appointment

–          Closed 2 pending sales

–          Tried a new “killer voice mail” and got a return call!

–          Did a workout for 45 minutes at lunch

Here’s the important thing: when you think of what you did do,  it gives balance to what you didn’t do.

That’s called perspective.

In tele-sales it often gets easy to lose perspective and to focus only on what was NOT achieved, on sales you didn’t get, on all the voice mails you encountered, on how few decision makers you reached, on a prospect that went with a competitor,  on the fact that you only got ‘one’ appointment, and the list goes on. It gets easy to beat yourself  down which in turn discourages you from doing something about it. In short, you become a victim.

Let me tell you a story about my son to illustrate the point.

Craig was flipping his house and there was ton of work that needed to be done before it went onto the market. The list was staggering. We worked on weekends and week nights and despite the hours and effort, he’d look at it with such dismay, seeing only what remained undone.  He began to hate the thought of working on it in the evenings and weekends. It was easy to avoid it.  This is not unlike tele-sales or tele-prospecting where the efforts don’t seem to be yielding results.

Seeing his discouragement, I started asking him, “Okay, so what did we accomplish?” (if I was there) or “What did you accomplish?” (if he was working on it alone).  The question was designed to get him to focus on what was done. I made him list everything. Sometimes I had to twist his arm.  Craig would mumble his replies, giving a broad overview of the day. For example, he would say, “We painted the basement.” I said, “No, first we vacuumed the drywall dust. Then we sponged the walls and ceiling. And then we cut and primed all the walls. And we cut and primed the ceiling. And then hung the mail box and  then we put up the new numbers.”  Put that way, we did a lot. It sounded like a lot. And that sounded like success.

And at some point, he began to see the light. He slowly began to enthusiastically list ALL the tasks for that that day, even the smallest.  He would report those accomplishments to my wife with a degree of pride.

The Benefits

Asking yourself what you accomplished not only brings perspective it helps bring about a change in  your attitude.

And with a change in your attitude there comes an inevitable change in behavior; in how you approach your work.

For Craig, the goals for the day or weekend became more defined,  the effort was more concentrated, the quality of work improved, the quantity of work increased.  Interestingly, he began to ask ME what we accomplished. He’d point out things I missed which told he was taking note of the successes and was see progress.

The 13th Warrior

At the end of our ‘listing sessions’ Craig would recite a line from one of his favorite  movies, “The 13th Warrior”.  In the film, a Viking warrior, wounded and dying is left behind to hold off the bad guys who arein hot pursuit.  Rather than dwell on his fate, the warrior chooses to see his successes and achievements.  Reveling in his accomplishments, he grabs his sword,  prepares for battle,  turns to his comrades and says with a joyful grin, “Today…was a GOOD day!” Now, that’s a good attitude.

And what did Craig finally accomplish?

The work got finished, he put the house up for sale,  he sold in less than five days …and he made a killing in the profit. It was a ‘good day.’

Your Turn For a Good Day

Here’s what to do.  At the end of the day, maybe as you pack up or as you head home, ask yourself, “So, what did I accomplish today?” If you can, write everything down. The longer the list the greater the sense of momentum. Review the list. Take pride in it.

And then say to yourself, “Today… was a good day.”

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