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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA

Eplilogue from The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them

In the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; ... we had everything before us, we had nothing before us ... "

Somehow, that passage evokes the inescapable ups and downs of the sales profession. There will be periods when you feel you are in the "best of times," periods when you have everything before you - unlimited opportunities, responsive prospects, repeat customers, and numerous referrals. Life couldn't be any better.

Then there will be periods that feel like the "worst of times" - times when it feels like you have nothing before you. Prospects won't take your calls. Customers cut back on orders. The supply of leads from the marketing department dries up. In Dickens' words, your "spring of hope" turns to your "winter of despair."

During your "worst of times," you can give up, sit on the sidelines, and wait for things to get better. Or you can knuckle down and do what needs to be done to search out and identify, qualify, and develop new, viable opportunities. Is it harder to develop business opportunities when prospects aren't lining up at the door? Certainly. Is it impossible? No. It just takes dedication - and enough discipline to do the necessary behaviors.

If you pick up the phone and start dialing, you will, miracle of miracles, eventually find yourself in the middle of discussions. Knowing what you know, you can turn those discussions into prospecting calls.

If you make enough prospecting calls, you'll find prospects.

If you ask enough prospects to make commitments and buying decisions, you'll obtain commitments and buying decisions.

If your behaviors are correct and consistent, the results will follow.

The Dickens Paradox

There is a puzzling issue to consider in any discussion of the "best of times" and the "worst of times." It is this: If we are not careful, our "best of times" may actually prove to be our undoing as salespeople.

After all, it is during the "best of times" that we may begin to let our most productive, proactive behaviors slip. When our prospects are plentiful and demand for our products and services is high, we may not feel compelled to maintain the same respect for our own prospecting routines that we had previously. When there are plenty of opportunities in the pipeline and many presentations scheduled, we are more likely to let a prospect slide on a commitment, more likely to accept a "think it over" - rather than be firm about obtaining a decision. When times seem good, we may allow the relationships that got us through the "worst of times" to become stale or disappear. We make the comfortable, but lethal, shift from proactive behavior patterns to reactive behavior patterns.

During the best of times, we salespeople can become sloppy - and still do quite well. Eventually, however, the tide will turn. And the behaviors that would have prevented our income from plummeting will no longer be second nature to us. We will have to work hard to make them second nature all over again ... if we plan to make our way back to the ''best of times."

Performing the appropriate, proactive behaviors consistently is the key to maximizing your success during the best of times - and the key to maintaining a consistently high income level, even during the worst of times. You can solve the "Dickens Paradox" - if you resolve to remain proactive, to keep making conscious choices and performing the actions that will move you forward.

Do the behaviors! Do the behaviors! Do the behaviors! - David Mattson

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