If you haven’t spent some time over the last few weeks feeling those emotions, you must be some sort of alien. I admit that in these hours when I’m sitting in my new office (bedroom overstuffed chair) there are moments when fear and anger creep from my subconscious mind to full awareness as I consider what this pandemic is doing to my life, my business, my future and my entire world. I suspect you’ve experienced the same thing, at least I hope you have.
Self-preservation is a strong motivator, particularly when the environment seems to be less safe and accommodating. As Maslow indicates in his Hierarchy of Needs, the Physiological is the most basic. At our core we are creatures that want our personal needs met before thinking about the needs of others. When we find ourselves threatened our instincts are to look out for number one first and foremost from both a logical and emotional perspective.
Your attitude is your compass to the future. Imagine if you were one of Christopher Columbus’ three small ships heading off to find the New World over 500 years ago. That leap of faith is amazing when you consider the common belief that the world was flat, and certain death awaited anyone that challenged that paradigm by sailing in search of an unknown destination. Certainly, some of those sailors had moments of doubt as the days slipped by and there was no land in sight. “When will this folly end and our feet will be on terra firma again?” had to be a common question asked in hushed tones.
Yes, I’d much rather not be typing this post, but I can’t worry about what I cannot not change or control. Working from home is not nearly as engaging as standing in front of room of salespeople or even responding electronically to requests for coaching. And making sales calls on people that don’t know when their sales teams will be back in the marketplace feels a bit peculiar to say the least. Two weeks ago, few people thought this is the world we’d be working in today, but here we are.
Today we are all facing a challenge that two weeks ago seemed as likely as pigs flying. Yet, here we are facing a sales challenge you won’t find talked about in any sales training manuals or motivational seminars. Essentially, the world has shut down for almost everyone, and none of us can truly say, with any certainty, when it will reopen. With that reality staring us in the face I thought I’d take some time this evening and make some suggestions about how to survive the challenges in front of all salespeople. Below you will find a few ideas for each of the three points of our MAP to Success: Mindset, Activity and Process.
Prospecting is the lifeblood of sales success. Most people that have made it past their first 12-24 months of sales realize this basic fact. Without prospecting there is no selling to be done, period. When you haven’t got a prospect to talk to you are dead in the water, maybe staring at the phone hoping it will ring or working to craft the silver bullet email blast that generates tons of inquiries. In my 40 plus years of selling I haven’t seen either of those strategies produce consistent results for anyone. But I have seen some people that are committed prospectors make one mistake over and over, failing to realize that prospecting and selling are distinctly different parts of a successful business development process.
At 35, Rachel built a nice career for herself, and she was enjoying the benefits of that success. There was a nice house in an upscale neighborhood, the vacations in all the places she ever dreamed about and a luxury set of wheels sitting in the driveway; all of it earned through hard work and commitment to Rachel’s goals. Her life looked like the epitome of success, and Rachel was very proud of it all. There was, however, one thing Rachel didn’t have, and it seemed the more successful she became the less of this one thing she had at her disposal. Rachel hated to admit it, but all the success cost her time to enjoy her life with friends and family. To Rachel, it became obvious that success had a price and she wasn’t sure it was worth it to raise the bar and experience even more of it. She found herself admitting that being more successful just meant giving up most of what was left of her personal life.
Charlotte and Eleanor are twins, and their mother signed them up with a local Brownie troop when they turned seven years old. The girls loved all the fun craft activities that were part of the troop’s weekly meetings, and their parents loved to see them make new friends and socializing outside the family. As the year went on the two girls’ personalities became more and more apparent. Charlotte’s outgoing nature and willingness to take on new adventures was very different from Eleanor’s shy and less bold demeanor. Never was it more apparent than when the annual ritual of selling the famous Girl Scout cookies took place. Eleanor was upset and cried when her sister constantly was recognized for the most sales, and well, Eleanor’s reaction was to ask if she could be excused from selling cookies. When her mother told Eleanor she had to either sell or drop out of the troop, Eleanor was devastated. After her first few attempts to sell to people going past their stand at the grocery store failed, Eleanor was ready to head home and quit the troop as well.
How many times have you seen a highly successful salesperson get to the point of total frustration over not having any personal time? Nothing is sadder than someone making lots of money but never having a day off to enjoy the things they can now afford. From the outside it seems as though their success has created a new world of problems; stress, feeling like they can’t stop, endless calls from customers and a sense that being highly successful has a very high price. It doesn’t have to be that way.