No, you’re not crazy. There really are voices in your head. Voices that keep you from doing what you need to do during your sales calls. It can be the voice of your teachers, your parents, your piano teacher, or your little league coach. Voices which have now become your own voice, collectively known as negative self-talk.
“Don’t ask so many questions,” “You’re making a pest of yourself,” “You’re not ready,” “They won’t trust you,” “You’re doing it wrong,” “You need more practice,” “You don’t know what you’re talking about”—and the list goes on. While these voices may have been appropriate at some point (and I emphasize may have) they are no longer appropriate. And, you don’t have to listen. Tell them to be quiet.
Make a list of all the people on your sales calls who are not helping you sell. Include parents, teachers, spouses, (supposed) friends and colleagues—anyone whose voice you hear saying something that doesn’t support your efforts. Stick the list in an envelope, seal it, and tuck it away in a drawer—way in the back of the drawer. Better yet, if you can handle the symbolism, drop the envelope into the paper shredder. Don’t take any voices on your sales calls that aren’t there to help you sell.
What Would You Do?
Reaching high levels of success in selling is typically not the result of a major breakthrough—a new strategy or technique. Most often it is the result of several “minor” improvements made over time: an extra step; a small change; a slightly different approach.
To discover some “minor” improvements you can make, answer the following questions:
• If you could do one thing to expand your customer base, what would you do?
• If you could do one thing to expand the number of products or services your customers buy from you, what would you do?
• If you could do one thing to improve the relationship with your customers, what would you do?
• If you could do one thing to make better use of your time and energy, what would you do?
• If you could do one thing to improve your ability to respond to the needs of your customers, what would you do?
• If you could do one thing to leverage your business relationships to identify new selling opportunities, what would you do?
If you answer the questions, you will have a list of things you can do to reach a greater level of success. Choose one action and begin today. When you’ve completed the activity, choose another. When you’ve completed the list, repeat the process. Continuous improvements over time will add up to major breakthroughs. So, what will you do?
Don’t Waste Your Time
• Setting goals is a waste of time.
• Developing action plans is a waste of time.
• Formulating implementation strategies is a waste of time.
• Writing affirmations to support goal achievement is a waste of time.
• It’s all a waste of time… if you don’t ACT!
Setting goals, developing plans, identifying and scheduling activities are nothing more than intellectual exercises if you don’t take the first step, then another, and another until your goal is attained.
Some people plan and plan and plan, but fail to act. Others fail to plan, but take action and succeed in spite of their somewhat chaotic behavior. Why? Because even though their actions may not be the most efficient, they are doing something. And, action, even without planning, trumps even the most meticulous planning that’s not followed through with action. So, don’t waste your time on planning unless you are committed to taking action.
Perfection, Paralysis, and Procrastination
You studied the market and calculated the potential demand for your product. You studied your product and identified its unique aspects and benefits for prospective customers. You studied your competitors and planned exactly how to position your product in order to expose their weaknesses. You fine tuned your approach. You’re prepared.
If you’re so prepared, why aren’t you doing anything?
Maybe you’re trying too hard. It’s admirable that you want your approach to be perfect when you put your plan in motion. But, it just doesn’t work that way. Perfection comes from doing, not planning. Besides, who said you had to be perfect? For now, you just have to be good enough. Perfection will come later.
Striving for perfection leads to paralysis which in turn, leads to procrastination. The more you try to refine your prospecting call or presentation, for instance, the more things you’ll find to add, change, or delete. The more you tinker with it, the less likely you are to ever be finished. After all, it can always be better. Your quest for perfection will prevent you from moving forward.
Strive for progress, not perfection. At some point, the preparation must stop…and you must do something. Make the calls, deliver your presentation. Whatever it is, do it. Then, you can evaluate the results and fine tune if necessary.
Focus on making progress every day. Commit to an activity in writing and record your result. Strive to make it just a bit better the next time. If each attempt, each action is better than the previous—even if it’s far from perfect—you’re making progress. And, if there is such a thing as perfection, constant progress will get you as close as humanly possible to it.