“Life is Difficult.” This is the first sentence of The Road Less Travelled written by Dr. Scott Peck in 1978. He writes that when people realize this truth this understanding leads to greater emotional health and production. It does because this knowledge helps people reach for the tools to deal with a difficult life – tools like self-discipline, delaying self-gratification, etc.
To groups of salespeople I pose the question, “What things cause us to change (to get better)?” After I receive a few responses, I ask them this follow up question,“What must be present for us to last through the difficulties of change?”
I thought you might like to see their thoughts. As you read, ask yourself what action items and new thinking would help you strengthen your ability to last when you seek to achieve sales goals and things get difficult.
10 Areas to Skills Self-Improvement and Greater Sales Performance
1. Willingness to Last
We all are faced with things that test our resolve – our will. Deep inside something stirs to fight against our direction and our aspirations. Like the soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge or tourists on a hot day waiting in line for a hot dog, we find ourselves armed for perseverance with the weight of our reasons. We press on or quit. How strong is your desire and drive to finish?
Do you see a brighter day ahead? Do you believe that things will get better? Does your candle flicker against a mighty wind or hold steady against the forces against it. We all find our hope tested. Each day, week, or month when prospecting finds resistance or someone stops returning our calls, we face a choice. Depression or hope – which is it for you? Victor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, tells us that the Germans could not take one thing from a man or a woman unless they released it themselves – their hope.
3. Trust in the Process
Skills improvement depends on learning to do new or old steps with greater mastery. Our coach may use unfamiliar tools and take us through training or practice to make these new steps habits. If we trust the process, if we believe in the new way, then we involve ourselves in the effort to change and we increase our energies within the struggle to grow. This trust in the process stems from our trust in the coach and his system.
4, Belief in Product
When people know that their work helps people, this strengthens their resolve and confidence in the end result. It also provide a weightier purpose than just selling a product or service and meeting budget numbers. As experts tell us, people will work for less money if their work seems to make a difference. As value and appreciation increase, effort increases. There’s a reason that Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, sold north of 40 million copies.
Consistency leads to a breakthrough if we wait long enough. But the world’s alternatives, technologies, and possible activities lure us away from the work focus necessary to master something. The temptations of sights and sounds bring a siren’s call to other pursuits especially when the going get tough. We can also get bored with the process. So, stay focused. Keep at it. Genius and greatness require this trait.
6. Strong Leadership
The leadership we follow can fall prey to the things that thwart people who seek to get better. Look for those that persist, encourage, and build belief in the process required for change. Find the passion behind the company, the product, or the service. Listen to the strong words that lead you back from the things that seek to divide your mind and defocus you. And if this type of leadership is not present, become your own constant in a sea of variables and mixed messages.
Are you a positive person or a negative person. Do you try to build what’s around you or tear it down. I do not mean that you bury your head. I mean, that if you accept a company to work for and a product to believe in, do you focus (talk about) its imperfections or its strengths? I do not mean that you do not offer suggestions for improvement. I mean are a negative person with whom people are not encouraged to be around? Because when we are givers we make our own goal achievement possible at higher levels. We guard our thinking and our words to protect what we say we believe in. Relationship strengthen with prospects and co-workers.
Taking on new assignments or new tasks or new ways of doing things leads to being bad before being good. As a matter of fact, because of the J-factor in improvement, performance often trends down when new skills are practiced. One needs to hold on through these “failures” while the new skills take root. A healthy dose of confidence supports the change process as long as it does not become arrogance or the type of pride that leads to lack of humility and a fixed mindset.
9. Support System
Put together a group of people who support you. Realize that not everyone will be your advocate down new roads and new ways. This foreign path scares some and reminds others of their own timidity. When you find people who celebrate your accomplishments and progress, you will unearth a rare treasure for your hope and perseverance. So, put this group together with intention and do not be surprised at those who do not seem to fit your support system.
Asking open-ended questions, hitting a low and outside fast ball, and putting mud between bricks in such a way that the end product is good, requires dedicated hours of practice and real-time play. Everyone, including salespeople and their coaches, should focus on progress. Did you ask the question, tip the ball, or get one brick in place. If you do, celebrate. That’s progress. And, progress builds hope in better performance at a level we desire.
I know these are bite-size chunks of self-improvement 101. But, it’s funny. Most of us do not tire of hearing them. On the days I ask, “What must be present to last through the difficulties of change,” the room quietens and focus intensifies. On those days, it’s important for me to remember that the basics still encourage. And, when I get up today, I need to do my best for the benefit of those around me – striving to grow. Kindest regards, always, Lance.