Tag Archives: change

Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #5: Quit Less, Persist More

This is the fifth in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and  achieving sales success.

Tip #5: Quit Less, Persist More

I know that you – the reader- are not a quitter.  I know that you keep plugging away making your prospecting calls on a regular and continuous basis. I know that you do all the things you have to do to be successful even when you don’t want to do them, right?

But there ARE those that quit and that quit too easily and that’s why they’ve lost control of their sales destiny.  There are five reasons why they quit doing the tough stuff.  First, quitting is easy.  Take cold calling, for example.  All you have to do is stop dialing.  No big deal.  Nothing complex.  You stop.  Easy as pie.

Second, let’s face it, quitting is rewarding.  Let’s continue with the cold calling example.  When you quit cold calling you are rewarded because there’s no more monotony, there’s no more rejection, all your frustration vanishes into thin air.

Third, when you quit something there usually isn’t an immediate consequence.  When you quit cold calling even though you haven’t reached your objective, nothing catastrophic occurs.   The net effect of quitting is not readily apparent.  It only shows up some where down the line when your sales pipeline is empty.

Fourth, taking action means change.  You have to change your routine to take control of your sales destiny. Change is sometimes frustrating; downright hard at times.  So we quit rather than change.

Finally, people quit because they don’t know how to take decisive action.

Action Items

Not quitting is sometimes tough. Not quitting means having faith in your strategy (such as having faith that cold calling will yield results).  Not quitting means having discipline.  Easy to say, not always easy to do.

Action #1: Think about (visualize, if you will) the consequences of quitting a particular sales task or activity.   Think of all the ugly, uncomfortable things that could happen on the job, with your boss, and with your career.  Scare yourself.  Understand the worst case scenario.

Action #2: Do the thing you dislike most first.  Let’s stay with cold calling as an example. If you don’t like it, do it first thing in the morning.  That way it doesn’t hang over your head like the Sword of Damocles for the entire day.  (Quick: does anyone even know who Damocles was?)

Action #3:  Do the thing you dislike most well. If you’re going to cold call, do it right or don’t do it at all. Doing it and doing it poorly is the same thing as quitting.  Don’t kid yourself otherwise.

Summary

Persistence at tough tasks pays dividends.  Over time it makes you stronger and better. Quit less. Persist more.

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Whine Less, Sell More

I am not overly fond of whiners. How about you?

The World of Whiners

A while ago I was visiting a client. It was a month since my last visit and as I walked around the reps I picked up snippets of conversations here and there.  Here’s what I heard over a period of three or four days every, single time I drifted by:

  • Woeful laments on the economy
  • Frightening comments about competitors stealing business away
  • Rumbling groans about commission rates
  • Disdainful remarks on the marketing efforts being made
  • Painful reflections on how they were making less money than ever before
  • Sorrowful reports about the quality of the list
  • Dismissive statements about management
  • And much… much more

And I wondered … I wondered if they whined less and simply focused on selling more that most of their troubles would disappear.

I wondered this because off in a corner, removed from the hub-bub of despair and negativity, was a lone rep quietly picking up the phone and dialing. He was dialing and selling.  He led all the reps by a mile and had only been there a year; blowing the wheels off his objectives and making good money

This is important.  We all complain and whine every now and then.  Sometimes it’s a great safety value for releasing some of the pressure to perform.  I get that. I accept that.  But at some point it has to stop otherwise there are consequences.

Your Whining Options

If you find yourself whining consider your options:

Option #1: Continue to Whine

Your first option is the easiest.  Continue to whine, stay miserable and remain unhappy.  How does that sound as option when it’s printed in black and white?

The neat thing about whining is that you’re sure to find others who feel the same way.  Think of it: you can have a pity party.  You can feel miserable together. You feel even more crappy but at least you won’t be lonely in your despair.

And get this: lament long enough and you’ll eventually find a boss or owner who’ll let you go (fire you) which will take care of all your on-the-job miseries. (And then you’ll have something new to whine about).

Option #2:  Quit

Hey, if it’s so hard, if the list is so bad, if your manager is such an ogre, if your commission plan is so crappy, if the competition is that much better, and if the economy is so gloomy… then quit. Do yourself a big favor, pack up your bags and find happiness elsewhere.  Go where the grass is greener. Seriously! Why stay where you’re miserable?  Find something you like. You’ll be happier and so will all those who sit around you.

Option #3:  Try Changing the Situation

If you have ideas or recommendations that have a legitimate chance of changing, improving, correcting or rectifying the job situation then offer them up. Lay them out to your boss.  I don’t mean just pointing out the negative, I mean offering up a well thought out plan of action. (This is the REAL challenge: anyone can point out the flaws but precious few can offer up good, effective solutions).

Option #4: Stop Whining and Start Selling

Maybe the wisest (and best) action you can take is to zip up your lips, hunker down and start selling harder and/or smarter.  The more you dwell on the unpleasant aspect of your selling situation the more your time, energy and spirit is taken away from selling.  You drain yourself of valuable internal resources. Your resilience takes a beating. You become obsessive about the issues until they consume you. Your attitude takes a turn for the worse.  You won’t sell well and you won’t sell more if you’re in a negative place.  Period. End of sentence. So, sop it. Right now. This minute. Avoid others who complain. Find a nice corner away from the negativity and focus on selling.

Summary

The economy IS mediocre, some compensation plans are not the best, the old days of making tons of money are probably behind us, lists have mixed results, some managers are useless … Okay fine… that’s the way it is. But these issues are out of your control.

One thing for sure: whining won’t fix the situation.  Nothing changes when you whine.  You just sound negative and after a while, tediously boring.

The only thing YOU can control is you.  You CAN pick up the phone and dial.  You CAN try harder.  You CAN sell smarter. So skip the whining, start selling and succeed.

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This Technique Won’t Work for Your Selling Situation… So Don’t Bother With It

Do you make this mistake when selling?

When you read, hear or otherwise encounter a new selling skill or technique or process, do you tend to dismiss it?  You know what I mean: almost immediately rationalize why it won’t work.  You say to yourself, ‘it’s not me,’ ‘it won’t work with my clients,’ ‘that’s too cheesy,’ ‘my clients won’t like that,’ ‘not applicable to my product/service.’  The list goes on.

Simply put: saying that technique or skill won’t or can’t work is a debilitating mind game. It stunts sales growth and directly impacts your sales career.

Why we Play Mind Games

There are two primary reasons why some sales reps play these games.

  1. First, fear.   By denigrating an idea right off the bat, it means a sales rep doesn’t even have to try it.  If he/she never has to try a new method or approach there is no risk of rejection and ‘failure.’ For some, it is better to risk nothing and gain nothing than risk something and gain a lot.
  2. Second, complacency.  Some reps play mind games simply because they are complacent or worse, lazy.  Trying something new or different means change.  Change is uncomfortable for most people.  We become conscious of our awkward performance as we learn and implement, and because we are more conscious the mistakes or miscue seems huge.  We get embarrassed. We think the client is sitting there dissecting the error.  Better to stay in that safe, albeit conservative, selling world that we know and love so well.
The Net Result

The problem is we don’t realize we are victimizing ourselves.  Let’s face it: no one likes to admit they are ‘frightened’ or ‘lazy.’  Consequently, the tendency is to craft a detailed and seemingly logical rationalization that explains why a technique will not possibly work and therefore justifies the reason we won’t implement it. Case closed.

But what really gets closed is growth, development, and ability.  Sales results will typically stay the same … or maybe even decline.  The rep does not reach his or her potential in their sales or their career.  This eventually leads to frustration and discouragement.  Goals, objectives and dreams are not accomplished.  Bitterness ensues. Burnout is not unusual. Termination is a possibility.  The list goes on.

Who Plays These Mind Games

We are all guilty of the rationalization mind game to some degree (I am certainly no exception).   A degree of rationalization is human and sometimes legitimate.

But where rationalization really tends to settle is on underachievers or those who are going through a slump.  Rationalization offers an excuse to poor performance: “I know this technique won’t work so I won’t apply it. Not my fault.”

What to Do

The next time you read or hear or see a new sales technique,  pause for a moment and analyze what you are thinking. Try to catch yourself in the act of rationalization.  Do you hear the tape being played in your mind that says, ‘this won’t work because…”

If so, you’ve taken the first big step.  You’re looking at the problem square in the eye. Good for you.

Then try this one for size when it comes to rationalizing.  Say to yourself,

“I know this won’t work …. But… but… what if it did?  What if I tried using this new opening statement (or new objection handling technique, or new e-mail template or new closing technique …or whatever) and it works?  What would happen?  What could I gain from it?”

In effect you are fighting mind games with mind games. You are turning the logic around and forcing yourself to think of the benefits of taking the risk.

Then, say to yourself,

                “If I try this new technique what’s the absolute worst that could happen?”

If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is this: not much. In other words, you are not risking a lot.

At this stage the next step is to exercise a choice.  You have a choice to accept your initial rationalization (“it won’t work”) or a choice accept your  ‘re-rationalization’ (“what have I got to lose?”).

One more tip: even if you decide NOT to use the technique (and that’s okay, too) still keep an open mind. Don’t dump all over it.  The thing is, until you try it yourself you don’t really know if it will work or not. You have no evidence. Leave it alone.  By doing so, you don’t close your mind to future possibilities.

Summary

I am still stunned and amazed at the responses I sometimes get from readers of my blog, tweets and newsletters (or on occasion, in workshops) listing the ‘x’ reasons why one technique or another can’t work.    I think to myself, if they simply spent the time they took to compose their e-mail and applied it to trying the technique, their sales would probably increase in a New York minute.

Make a choice today.  Think, “It might work.”  Then give it a shot.

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10 Tips on How to Change and Change the Way You Sell

Why do sales people find it so difficult to add new skills to their selling process?

Because implementing new skills means adapting; it means change. And as a good rule of thumb, most of us hate change.  It takes us out of our comfort zone.  We resist change even if logically we know that the change will better us.  Change makes us feel awkward, self conscious, and uncomfortable.

Net result?

We do not derive the benefits that the training provided.  The great ideas, tips, techniques and strategies get diluted and sales results more or less stay the same.

Don’t be a victim to change.  By learning to adapt and become a little more flexible you’ll l embrace change and your sales will soar. Here are some thoughts on change to lend perspective and make the process of changing easier.

10  Thoughts on Change

Thought #1: Change is Intimidating

Change can be intimidating. When you are presented with a new skill, you have to step out of your comfort zone and take a chance. You might (in fact, you probably will) fail at your first few attempts. Failure does not make anyone feel good and so we resist trying the new skill to avoid the failure.

Hey, it’s okay to be intimidated. Bur fear the change and change anyway. Know this up front: you will likely stumble and fall and momentarily fail. This is a short term and relatively painless event. It’s kind of like getting a needle from your doctor. It’s not real pleasant but after all is said and done, it’s no big deal.

Thought #2: Change Takes Thought

This is important. Often we attempt the change in skills or tactics without thinking about the process. We just dive in. That’s when things get murky. THINK about what you’re trying to attempt. Plan it out. In some cases, script it out. Draw a mind map or a call guide. Become familiar with the process. Make things easier for yourself by thinking one, two and three steps ahead.

Thought #3: Take Change Slowly

Old joke: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

When I conduct full day training sessions I see how overwhelmed many of the reps become. They seem to think that they have to implement everything on the next call. Not so. Take a technique or two and master that. Don’t worry about the rest.  Then, add another new skill or two and build on what you have learned.

Thought #4: Change Takes Time

Far too many reps give up too soon. They try a technique for an hour or two or maybe even a day or two.  It doesn’t seem to flow smoothly or work effectively so logic tells them to go back to what was comfortable. They give up. They quit. That’s sort of like going on a diet and not losing 10 pounds in two days. Losing weight takes time. So does developing a new skill.

In fact, studies show that it takes about three weeks to create a new habit. It might take you more, it might take  you less but one thing is certain: change takes time. And that’s why you need to think about what it is you are attempting every single time.  You have to be conscious that you are trying a new technique.  It will feel odd at first but given time, the new skill becomes an unconscious action.

Thought #5:  Get Help Changing

Know this: you don’t necessarily have to tackle change on your own. Go to your supervisor, manager, peer or friend and solicit their help.  Ideally, you should have a coach (usually your manager) who can give you feedback – the good kind and the ‘not so good’ kind. The objectivity of a third party can make the change process faster and easier. So raise your hand.

Thought #6:  Cheat Change

Good trainers provide sales reps with a whole host of tools -job aids- to help make the adoption of a new skill easier and faster. Such tangible job aids as pre-call planning sheets, opening statement templates, selling grids and objections charts make change a heck of a lot easier. You can, in effect, cheat change. You can peak at your notes.  See your tools as cheat sheets.  On the phone, no one can see what you have in front of you. Use them!

Thought #7: You Can Change

Guess what? You can change. Anyone can change provided they CHOOSE to change. My observation has been that many sales reps simply give up before they ever try. They defeat themselves mentally. Be positive! Choose success. Choose to change.

Thought #8:  Celebrate Change Successes

Learn to recognize and accept that a change has been positive. For some bizarre reason, some sales reps seem to deny the success. Acknowledge the improvement. Celebrate the success and don’t look back.  Shout to the heavens, “hey, it worked!” Share your success with others.  When you pat yourself on the back you are likely to repeat the effort again and again.

Thought #9:  Change Gets Easier

Here’s the neat thing about change: it gets easier. Every time you add a new skill, it gets that much easier. Part of the reason is that the intimidation factor is reduced with every new success. Another part is because you are mastering a skill or technique… you’re getting better.

Thought #10: Beware the Change Back

Here’s the last and maybe most important thing: the tendency to go back to your old ways will be very strong. Immense.  This is called homeostasis. It’s like a great big magnet that will try to draw you back to where you once were.  You see this a lot with dieters. They loose the weight and then they pack it back on.  Why? Because the reverted to their old eating habits. They got complacent. They lost their discipline.  Same thing in selling.  You’ll discover the tendency to revert to old behaviors if you’re not vigilant.  (This is where a good coach can help keep you focused)

Summary

Change usually not ‘fun.’  At times it is frustrating.  But know this: change is good because it allows you to adapt.  If you study the most successful sales reps in any company you will quickly discover that the key to their success is their ability to change when necessary.

So start changing today and watch your sales start growing tomorrow.

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How to Change a Bad Selling Habit Into a Good Selling Habit in 20 Minutes

Suppose for a minute that there was a way to change bad selling habits into good selling habits.  What would this do for you and your career in sales?

The 20 Minute Imperative might be precisely what you need to pump up your sales for the remainder of the year. It’s a way to help change poor sales reps into a good sales rep or to change a good sales rep into a great sales rep.

Good Habits and Bad Habits

Let’s face it, in selling there are things that we like to do and there are things that we don’t like to do. We can call the things we like to do “good habits.” We do these repeatable events because we get enjoyment from them or because we are good at them or because they have a pay off. The point is: we do them because of some sort of positive reward.

We can call the things we don’t like to do “bad habits.” We avoid repeating certain events (for example, cold calling) because we don’t get enjoyment from them or because we are not very good at them or because they don’t seem to have an obvious or immediate pay off.  The point is we tend to associate some elements of selling with a negative connotation.

The real issue is this: how can we change a bad habit into a good habit?

The 20 Minute Imperative

The 20 Minute Imperative is a deceptively simple yet highly sensible and effective process or technique that can help you create good sales habits. It’s also a way of sneaking up on bad habits, reducing and then eliminating them completely.

Defined, an imperative is a binding or compelling rule, duty or requirement. From a selling perspective, the 20 Minute Imperative is a fundamental requirement or duty that helps achieve sales success. Simply put, the 20 Minute Imperative means taking any selling task or activity that you don’t like or don’t perform or don’t perform consistently or well and tackling it for 20 minutes, and only 20 minutes in a day. That’s it. Twenty short minutes and you’re done. That’s the imperative.

Why it Works

To understand the power of the 20 Minute Imperative you need to understand why and how it works. Once you understand the reasoning behind the process, it is much easier to accept and implement.

It’s ‘Doable’ and Easy

Faced with three or four hours of an unwanted task is daunting, if not intimidating.  The shear length of the activity stops most of us dead in our tracks. We procrastinate and the task gets left undone which destroys our effectiveness. Twenty minutes, on the other hand, is a doable amount.  Anyone can find twenty minutes and it is not nearly as intimidating as the alternative. This is the brilliance of the 20 Minute Imperative. It breaks a tough task down into a relatively easy and doable task.

It Creates Momentum

The second reason stems directly from the first. Sometimes it’s not the doing of a given task that’s the issue but rather getting started.  Because twenty minutes is doable and easy we are more inclined to actually get started and that creates momentum.  Once momentum has actually begun, the activity is not nearly as challenging.

It Keeps Bad Habits at Bay

The trouble with tackling any unpleasant task for too lengthy a time is that we are reminded just how unpleasant the task truly is.  For example, suppose you recognize the need to focus on cold calling because your sales have taken a dip.  You schedule the entire morning to dial, dial, and dial.  After an hour or so, you are frustrated and unsuccessful. You are reminded of “painful” the process can be.  At that precise moment, you begin to fall back into your old bad habit: giving up. What is more, procrastination take takes over and you skip the cold calling the next day and the day after and so on

By tackling cold calling for only twenty minutes, you keep the bad habit of procrastination at bay. In effect, you sneak up on the task and avoid the typical discouragement and frustration that leads to avoidance behavior. You are not reminded of how grotesquely unpleasant the task can be. But what you HAVE done is begun the process of calling which you had been avoiding for so long.

It Builds Tolerance and Strength

Calling in 20 minute spurts will help build tolerance to any unpleasant task.  But because you are actually working on the task you build strength and competence.  This in turn, creates a sense of mastery and confidence. You will find that moving from 20 minutes to 25 minutes is a breeze. From there, 30 minutes is doable. Eventually 40 minutes is routine. And so on.

It Builds Success

Because you are doing something, results begin to occur. Success, even small success, breeds more success.  It can’t help but work.

6 Steps to Implementing the 20 Minute Imperative

1. Choose your task or activity.

Pick one “bad” habit that you would like tackle; maybe its cold calling, maybe its paperwork.  Regardless, choose only one and focus on it. The reason why you choose only one bad habit is because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself.  Applying the 20 Minute Imperative to four or five tasks might seem like a good idea but implementing the process can be a challenge until you have mastered the process.  You can get discouraged and in a short while you’ll find yourself precisely in the same position as you started.

2. Schedule the 20 Minute Imperative

This is probably the toughest element of the 20 Minute Imperative.  You need to schedule the 20 minutes each and every day. You need to do this at the beginning of every week and record it somewhere so that you can VISUALLY see the allotted time.  Your best bet is usually first thing in the morning.  Get the task over with otherwise the tendency will be to put it off.

3. Work only the 20 Minutes

Do twenty minutes and no more; at least while you are getting started.  Oh sure, you might be all revved up initially and tackle the task for more than the allotted time. I don’t want to discourage this but I do want to remind you that it can awaken bad habits. Your initial enthusiasm can wane and eventually the process will diminish to nothing. Better to keep a slower and steadier pace and build momentum, strength and confidence over time.

4. Focus on the process and not the results

This is critical. This is vital. This the most important point. Focus on the process of planning and doing the 20 Minute Imperative when scheduled and for the twenty minutes.  Forget about the end result! If you don’t get a prospect on the line, don’t worry about it. If you only manage to tackle a half inch of paper work in a twelve inch pile, don’t sweat it.  What you want to do is train yourself to DO the task regularly.  This is the good habit you want to achieve. Sales and other results will start to come as you CONTINUE THE PROCESS.

5. Don’t freak out if you fall

I guarantee you that at some point you will probably stumble and fall. You’ll miss your twenty minutes here and there. Hey, no big deal! Don’t freak out and think that you are a loser.  This is negative self talk and it destroys your efforts to change.  Simply begin the process again…and again… and again. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.

6. Expand the process

As you get better, stronger and more successful, you can tack on more time if necessary. You might be surprised to discover that twenty minutes is enough.  You can also expand the process for other tasks or activities that you want to improve upon.  You’ll have a process that you know works.

Summary

The 20 Minute Imperative is not a stunningly new concept.  Time management experts and others will tell you that simply working on something will help you achieve a goal.  The 20 Minute Imperative is easy and ‘doable’ and can help you meet and exceed your sales goals.  So why wait? Start your 20 Minute Imperative today

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Why Tele-Reps Fail: Missing 100% of the Shots You Never Take

Wayne Gretzky once said, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

He was talking about taking risks; about doing things differently; about learning something new; about laying out on the line. I thought of this quote  last week when a tele-sales manager told me about a rookie he had hired.  Here’s what happened:

The tele-sales rep was given an article I wrote on voice mail messages.  The rep immediately declared that the message would not work. He derided the entire concept.

Mind you, he hadn’t tried it.

He just ‘knew.’

Apparently he is blessed with telekinetic powers that enable him know precisely what a prospect thinks. Equipped with these powers, the rep will never, ever have to try something new or different.

Well, here’s the point:

If you never try a new technique or apply a new idea you will never know whether it works or not.  You will never have to take a risk. You’ll never have to go through that awkward phase of learning something new. You’ll never have to worry about failing.

Nor will you ever have to worry about winning or succeeding.

You’ll stay precisely where you are. Or you’ll slide. Downwards.

One of the biggest problems that plagues sales professionals is going out on a limb and trying something new. It’s why many reps fail. Or if they don’t fail, they achieve staggeringly mediocre results. It is so much easier to ‘pooh hoo’ an idea than it is to give it a shot, right? Here’s the thing:  to achieve success you have to be prepared to take a risk.

What about you?

Do you seek out new ideas? Do you read or listen with an open mind? Do you give something an honest shot before tossing it aside? Or do you quickly dismiss a tip or tactic so that you will never have to make a change in your selling style?

This is a moment of truth. Think about it. It might be the one thing that’s holding you back from being wildly successful.

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