Sales champions recognize that their solution is not a proper fit for everyone. There will be those who are either a bad fit or the timing is simply not right for them. Either way, sales champions understand that rejection is going to happen. Regardless, they know they must be fearless in spite of the rejection.
Fearless sales pros understand that rejection simply is not personal. In spite of what you think, feel or tell yourself: Everyone is not out to get you! In fact, it’s not about you period. Rejection is prevalent and normal.
Think about it this way: 80% to 90% of all prospecting calls are rejected. Out of 100 calls you may make this week, ten to twenty of them will potentially agree to meet with you and have a conversation about their business and your solutions. That’s a lot of rejection!
Fearlessness is about accepting the reality and working in spite of it. It means acknowledging that it’s just not the right time for this prospect, but not fearing the response. It means making the next phone call, knocking on the next door, in spite of the odds not being in your favor. It means breaking down the barriers in your own mind and continuously moving forward.
In his book, The Winner Within, Pat Riley details the principles behind the Los Angeles Lakers famous Three-Peat that occurred between 1986 and 1988. Knowing that getting one championship is tough, but going for two in a row and then a third, even some of the greatest teams in the NBA would have difficulty maintaining their focus. So he issued a challenge to his players to improve their results in five key areas by just 1%. By constantly looking for ways to improve in each of these areas, he believed the team would develop and experience exponential growth.
Reflecting back on it in his book, he writes, “As we saw it, one percent improvement, a one percent improvement in five areas for twelve players gave us a 60 percent increment.” His players bought into it and, as a result, his team experienced success at a level that hadn’t happened in a very long time in the NBA.
What’s Your Number?
Sales champions understand their numbers. They regularly track the number of prospecting calls they make on a daily and weekly basis. They know how many prospecting calls they need to make to set a meeting with a potential prospect. From there, they understand how many meetings turn into presentations. And, of course, they know how many presentations convert into orders.
Knowing your number is critical to your success. When you know your number, sales forecasting becomes a very predictive process. You know that continuing to perform at a certain level will help you achieve a certain result.
When you know your number, it also provides you with the ability to created improved performance. When Pat Riley was preparing to introduce his idea to the team, he first identified the five critical areas that lead to success and then measured every single player on his roster based on the previous season’s results. Having a starting point focused on important areas provides a way to create and generate improved outcomes.
If you know that you want to earn $100,000 this year and you know that your average sale equals $1,500 in commission, you have some of the starting data you need to create a roadmap for success.
What are some of the other information you would need to know?
- How many orders do you sell each month to earn the average $1,500 per order commission?
- How many presentations do you need to make to get each sale?
- How many appointments will you need to get to that presentation goal?
- How many prospecting calls will you need to make to schedule the number of required meetings?
When you know your number, you are able to design a roadmap to achieve virtually everything you want to accomplish. What would the outcome be if you simply make a 1% improvement in your closing rate? What about your meeting-to-presentation rate? Individually, each makes a difference in your outcome. Cumulatively, it dramatically improves your month-over-month success.
A legacy is defined as something that is handed down and left for the next and future generations. A legacy can be an inheritance, such as money and land. A legacy can also be something much more significant, such as a positive impact on society that leads to a more successful and rewarding one. It can also be something more tragic, such as debt and slavery that continues to shackle those left behind with the consequences of those who went before.
Throughout history, legacies have been left. Some for good; others for worse. The men who fought for and led in the rise of what is the United States of America left an indelible imprint on the future that we experience today. The democratic experience was new when the United States was founded and it continues to be a grand experiment when compared to the thousands of years of history found in other nations around the globe. And yet, in our infancy, the legacy of this country continues to leave a lasting imprint worldwide.
The question, then, is: What kind of legacy are we now leaving? As a nation, are we leaving a legacy of hope and inspiration? Are we crafting a future that will continue to inspire and embolden society to seek the greater good and make a difference in the world? These are questions that remain and the fact that the questions even have to be asked should terrify each one of us.
A Legacy of Doubt
At the time of this writing, we seem to be crafting a legacy of doubt. We live in desperate times and in people are hurting, seeking resolution to their pain.
Government has failed us. We have leaders who are locked in financial arrangements with individual and corporate donors that shape political decisions, not often for the greater good. We have a political system that is devolving into political strife, inaction and negativity. While words are spoken that indicate a commitment to seeking real solutions, the actions of those leaders speak volumes that indicate otherwise.
Corporate America has taken advantage of men and women in too many ways. At a time when profits are at an all-time high among the Fortune 500 and Wall Street continues it climb to all new heights, the American worker struggles to survive financially. The Middle Class, as we’ve traditionally known it, no longer exists for all practical purposes. Incomes are stagnant and wages that are paid are paid not paid fairly. When a woman works for seventy-three cents compared to that of her male counter-part, something is wrong. When individuals struggle financially and are forced to work two and sometimes three jobs to meet their budget demands, something doesn’t feel right.
Racial division and strife are rampant in our world. When those in authority, such as the police, abdicate their role as peace keepers and, instead racially profile and abuse their roles, something is dreadfully wrong. When individuals, although not provoked, seek to question and challenge simple requests simply out of arrogance, tensions rise and spill over to greater, more deadly consequences.
Individual accountability is lacking, leading to a dissatisfied community. Rather than accept personal responsibility to live and operate, too many put their future in the hands of others. As a result, we are developing a legacy of disarray and hopelessness. The cries of our future children and grand-children can already be heard.
Something must be done.
It Doesn’t have to be This Way!
In spite of the negative climate, there is hope. Within each individual, including you and me, lie the seeds of greatness. In spite of the challenges we face, each one of us have a unique opportunity to make a difference.
When we leave our future and our hope in the hands of others, we empower them to do as they will. But the human design is not created that way. We’ve been endowed with purpose and intention. We contain the resources to choose a better, more empowering way.
But it begins with individual accountability and responsibility.
It begins with you and me.
We must resolve to craft our own legacy that we will hand down to future generations. It must be a legacy that tells our future selves that we matter, that they matter. Hopelessness and helplessness is not the norm. There is a great hope for the future if we allow it to shine brightly and boldly. But it begins with the only legacy that matters.
I am phenomenal
With every ounce of my blood
With every breath in my lungs
Won’t stop until I’m phe-no-menal
I am phenomenal
However long that it takes
I’ll go to whatever lengths
It’s gonna make me a monster though
I am phenomenal
But I would never say, ‘Oh, it’s impossible’
Cause I’m born to be phenomenal
Written by Mario Resto, Luis Resto & Eminem
We’ve been endowed with the seeds of greatness and designed to be absolutely phenomenal. But are you? Are you living the dream? Are you striving for greatness or continuing to live a life of mediocrity?
As we wrap up the first month of the year and reflect on the New Year resolutions that died two weeks ago, let’s talk about the seeds of greatness that reside within you. Every morning you wake to a new day and the opportunity to develop your phenomenal nature. But it’s not happening? Why?
You’re afraid of what will happen when you do, in fact, become phenomenal. You’re afraid of what others will say. As you improve and leave friends, family and co-workers behind breathing the decayed dust in your wake, what will you say? What will they say? How will they respond?
Perhaps you’re afraid of the harsh reality that it takes work. And what takes work is often painful as we’re forced to stretch beyond our capabilities. While the pain is momentary, it’s easier to set aside the dreams of greatness in exchange for the present comfort of mediocrity.
If you’re tired of being stuck and not achieving the reality of the greatness within you, let me share with you three key steps to take to shift from the slacker you are to the phenomenal greatness you’re intended to be.
- Allow yourself to dream and dream big. Dream the dreams only winners can dream. Expand your horizon from the limits of who you have been to the dreams of who you can and will be. Put your dreams down on paper and reflect on them. And them write them down again, writing them down as if the dreams are already a reality. This isn’t a time to question your sanity. You should have questioning your sanity all along as you let yourself drift along. Write your dreams down each and every day and reflect on who you are becoming as your dreams, your goals, begin to take shape.
- Take action! As you write down your dreams, ask yourself this: “What is one thing I can do today to move towards making my dreams a reality?” For far too many there is a significant gap between talking and doing, between dreams and reality. What separates the phenomenal and the average, mediocre individual is action. Each and every day, no matter how small, you must take action. Ask yourself, as you rewrite your goals down every day, “What can I do TODAY to move closer to achieving each of these goals?
- Silence the bullies! We talk to children a lot these days about how to deal with the bullies in their lives and yet we live every day allowing bullies to encourage us to abandon our dreams. In my book, Roar Like You Mean It! I write about the necessity of eliminating the hyenas from our lives. Bullies, hyenas – they’re all the same. They whisper how unachievable our dreams are. They snicker when you stumble or take a misstep. They can be recognized by their inability to encourage and support. They tear you down because of their own inability to chase their dreams. Bullies, whether at work, at home, or in other areas of your life, must be dealt with. There cannot be any grey area when it comes to those in your life and the dreams you seek to make a reality. If they can’t get on board with who you desire to achieve, they need to be shut up. You need to put distance between you and them. You need to keep them out of your head.
How long will you continue to sit on the sidelines and fail to become the phenomenal person you can become? How long will you dream big dreams and choose, through your inaction, to let them die? Why do you continue to let the bullies in your life have a presence in your life and affect how and if you pursue your dreams?
You are phenomenal! It’s time to show it. It’s time to shine!
Tim Grover, along with Shari Wenk, has written a great book entitled, “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable.” If you haven’t read it, just take my advice and get this book.
In his book, Tim introduces us to the three different types of competitors. He has provided them with his own special names: Coolers, Closers and Cleaners. In short, they represent the good, the great and the unstoppable competitors.
Here is a summary comparison of the three; which one are you?
The Unstoppable Competitors
|Can have an amazing game||Can have an amazing season||Have amazing careers|
|Worry about the competition and how they measure up||Study the competition and plan their attack based on the opponent||Make the competition study them; they don’t care whom they’re facing, they know they can handle anyone|
|Avoid taking the winning shot||Take the shot if they know they have a good chance of making it||Trust their gut and shoot; they don’t have to think about it|
|Won’t offer to take on a role they’re not comfortable with||Will take the role if you ask them and they’ll do it well, if they have enough time to prepare and study the situation||They don’t wait to be asked; they just do it!|
|Let others decide whether they’re successful; they do the job and wait to see if you approve||Feel successful when they get the job done||They never feel as if they’ve achieved success because there’s always more to do|
|They don’t want to carry the team, but they’re the first to slap you on the back when you do a good job||They want the credit for getting the job done and love being congratulated for what they did||They rarely congratulate you for doing your job; they simply expect you to do it|
|Think they want the spotlight, but when they get it, they usually handle it badly||Stand in front because they need to show who’s in charge||Don’t have to show who’s in charge — everyone already knows|
|They will eat whatever you feed them||Will order what they want and be satisfied with a great meal||It doesn’t matter what he eats, he’ll still be hongry again in an hour|
|Always needs a kick in the ass||Occasionally needs a kick in the ass||Never needs a kick in the ass|
If you’re a “Cooler,” stay home and don’t bother me. If you’re a “Closer,” we have a lot in common. But my aim is to be the ultimate cleaner – an unstoppable force to be reckoned with!
Jeb Blount, of Sales Gravy, has written a well-timed blog post that everyone in sales needs to read. Here’s part of it…
For the next month much of the western world will be in full holiday mode and salespeople will be met with this constant and frustrating refrain from prospects – “we’re just going to hold off on doing anything until after the holidays.”
You’ll also be tugged away from sales activity by many pleasing distractions – the perfect excuse to let your guard down and slack off. From now until the first week in January everything in sales tends to get turned upside down.
It’s critical for salespeople to properly manage holidays. Consider that in the U.S., when we include the period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day with Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, and the handful of other national celebrations, roughly 20% of the year is impacted by holidays. That is a huge chunk of prime selling time that can only be ignored at your peril.
It’s Harder to Sell During the Holidays
When managed poorly Holidays wreck sales productivity. Customers are on vacation, some businesses shut down completely, prospects put off decisions, and in many cases, with all of the distractions, your head isn’t in the game. During the holidays, more than ever, you must have a concrete plan for sales activity.
The brutal fact is it is harder to sell during the holidays and you basically have two choices: give up and give in or get focused.
In sales, like it or not, activity is everything. If you are not prospecting, questioning, presenting, closing, and taking the actions that move deals through your pipeline you will fail no matter what time of year it is. The challenge you face during the holidays is there is a much higher probability that deals in your pipe will stall and die because your prospects have an easy excuse to procrastinate. Because of this you must be even more focused and on top of your sales pipeline. You’ve got to work harder to keep every deal moving forward. You also need prospect even harder to ensure that your pipe is full of qualified opportunities going into January.
Maintain Activity or Pay the Consequences
During the holidays it is so easy to allow your self-discipline to slip and relax. It’s easy to drift away from your daily sales routine. When you allow this to happen you face peril as your pipeline velocity slows, your closing ratio drops off a cliff, and many of your prospects disappear into a black hole.
Read the rest of Jeb’s blog post here…
This coming Saturday, Ronda Rousey battles Bethe Correia in defense of her UFC title. They will do battle in Correia’s home country of Brazil and, amid the immense amount of trash talking, it has all the appearances of a great fight. Or so it appears.
According to BleacherReport.com, the real question isn’t who will win but how quickly.
Can Bethe Correia avoid getting finished by Rousey in less than 30 seconds?
That’s pretty bold, of course. The only question with Correia is how quickly Rousey will beat her?
That’s the point where things are right now, though. Rousey’s success is assured. How and when it comes about is academic.
As I listen to all the hype surrounding the fight and Ronda Rousey’s incredible skill and talent, her approach to a fight – this as well as every fight — is what every sales professional and business owner should adapt to their own business.
Ronda Rousey’s approach is simple — dominate the opponent and make a quick end of each and every fight. To accomplish this, she must prepare and train for every possibility. Nothing must be left to chance. To dominate, she comes out strong, with massive action, and forces her opponent to submit or leave the ring minus a large number of brain cells.
Dominate Your Space
In business, our goal must be to dominate. Competition is a non-starter. Either your goal is to dominate your space or you should leave the space for someone who really cares. Every inch you give to your “competitor,” every win you allow to take place, emboldens your “competitor” and gives them the false hope that success can be theirs. That isn’t an option. Not in the ring and not in the market place. Once your opponent is down, you must force their hand and their will.
To dominate your space, it requires you to take massive action. Normal levels of action, which is what the average person will take, will never win you the market space and it surely will not empower you to dominate the market. Your “competitor,” just like an opponent of Ronda Rousey, must feel so completely overwhelmed by your attack, your confidence, your drive that they wilt under the pressure. In so doing, you strike fear in future competition BEFORE you ever enter the arena.
All of this is great on paper but meaningless in reality if you are unwilling to give your complete commitment to the process. Winning in life, in business, and, yes, in the ring, commands your complete, unwavering commitment. If and when Ronda Rousey is beat, it will likely be due to her lack of attention to detail in the preparation phase. So, too, it is with you. You must plan for success by mapping out your day, your week, your month. You must have a focus on where you want to be and what it will take to get there. You must train, educate yourself, and stay on top of your game day-in, day-out. There is not a day to choose not to bring your proverbial “A” game, that is, unless you intend on getting beat!
Dominate or Wuss Out?
The choice is yours. In fact, you made the choice when you got out of bed today and you’ll make it again tomorrow. Either you will choose to dominate or you choose to be whipped. There are no reasonable alternatives. The arena is not for the faint of heart. It’s for those who choose to win, to whip, to force their supposed “competition” to submit or be knocked out.
So what’s your plan?
In his book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Seth Godin writes:
The problem with meeting expectations is that it’s not remarkable. It won’t change the recipient of your work and it’s easy to emulate (which makes you easy to replace). As a result of the tsunami of pretty good (and the persistence of really lousy), the market for truly exception is better than ever. That’s what I want if I hire someone for more than what the market will bear – someone exceptional. Work is a chance to do art. Good art is useless and banal. No one crosses the street to buy good art, or becomes loyal to a good artist. If you can’t be remarkable, perhaps you should consider doing nothing until you can…Raising the bar is easier than it looks, and it pays for itself. If your boss won’t raise your bar, you should.
Are you just trying to be good? Or are you truly trying to become someone who makes a difference — in your family, in your community, in your career?
It’s been asked, “If you disappeared tomorrow, would your absence leave a significant void?”
Are you indispensable or are just another in the herd?
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
It takes remarkable courage to confront large prey and even more to defend your Pride from the pursuit of another lion seeking to overthrow you. This is one of the elements I admire most about the lion – the real courage shown when it matters most.
In the Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion desires to go to the Emerald City in order to ask the Wizard for courage. Throughout their journey to Oz, the challenge with the lion’s timidity appears again and again. But when they arrive in Oz and the lion finally gets to ask for his courage, he finds out that he had it all along. The lion simply needed to reach inside of himself and recognize the courage that was already there.
There are far too many leaders in name only. Instead of exhibiting true courage, they, instead are a lot more like the Cowardly Lion. They make a lot of noise, roaring here and there, but fail to exhibit true leadership, true courage. They hide behind their desks and excuses, failing to do the real work. They begin to act a lot like the hyenas you’ll read about in the next chapter. This is a fact and it makes me both weary and fearful for our future generations. Leaders without courage operate solely out of intimidation and fear but fail to operate with real integrity. They won’t “man up” when it really counts.
While I realize what you are about to read smacks a bit of sexism, but I challenge you to read this as I intend it. Real leadership, whether the leader is male or female, requires critical skills and all too often I find these skills lacking in business leaders, government leaders, as well as in community leaders. Leadership is far more than having great oratory skills and it’s more than just stomping your foot and threatening when you don’t get your way. Real leadership requires courage.
Real sales champions are not just sales professionals; sales champions are leaders. Their leadership exhibits real courage in how they do their job, how they lead customers to make the right decisions, and how they perform under pressure. This is why some of the great leaders I admire rose from the sales ranks. Executives like Carly Fiorina, formerly of HP, Anne Mulcahy, retired CEO of Xerox, Bill McDermott, current CEO of SAP and former sales great, and others are profiles in courage and real leadership.
Learn to Act as If
Every sales champion understands this principle: “Act as if.” This principle challenges the champion to act according to where they want to be, not where they are at the present moment.
Let me explain.
When a sales champion is calling on a business owner or, more intimidating than that, a Chief Executive Officer of a Fortune 500 company, he understands that you have to act the part. If you act as if you don’t belong in the office with this owner or CEO, then you don’t and you won’t, for long. To succeed, however, you must recognize that this owner or CEO is looking for solutions to real problems and you hold the answer. You have the solutions they need and they are looking to you to be bold and assertive in identifying where the challenges and problems are and providing a real solution for them. If you aren’t prepared or willing to do that, you need to simply go home.
It takes real courage to act as if. Not every sales person I’ve met has what it takes to act the part. I understand why. It’s scary and intimidating. It’s not for the faint of heart. That’s why there is a real difference between sales professionals and sales champions. Sales champions are prepared and have the intestinal fortitude to act as if. They have the courage even when they may be a little fearful inside.
When you have the courage to push through your fear and act as if, others recognize the boldness. People respond to those who are courageous enough to put themselves out there and act as if until they become. This is why sales champions get results – real results consistently.
Over-Commit AND Over-Deliver
You’ve heard your boss say this as well as countless others: “Under-promise and over-deliver.” On paper that sounds good. It sounds reasonable that you want to set the bar low and excel far beyond what you promised. But, really? Have we sunk that far that we are unwilling to raise the bar and then strive to exceed those expectations?
Frankly I’m tired of individuals and companies who set the proverbial bar low in an effort to over-achieve and “wow” the customer. When I’m the customer, I want you to really wow me. Don’t give me milk-toast expectations that you know you can do in your sleep. Set the bar of expectation at such a point that there is absolutely no way the competition can really compete.
Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not suggesting you promise something that there is no hope of the customer every actually receiving. That is plain and simple dishonesty. What I’m referring to is simply elevating your game. Choose to do what your competition can’t or won’t do and then do everything in your power to even out perform yourself. This is a delicate and difficult balance but it truly can be achieved.
Annually I raise the bar on my sales teams. Regardless the quota that is established for me as the Director of Sales, my objective is to challenge my teams to over-perform what would normally be expected. I learned long ago that quota is minimal expectation for the job; exceeding quota is what needs to happen. Quota pays the bills; over-achievement puts money in the bank.
The same is true with your customers. When you set a high standard of expectation and consistently meet or exceed that high expectation, you are elevating their expectations of anyone else who might desire to compete for their business. It can be a significant blow to the confidence of a competitor when he or she comes to the realization that competing with you is a futile experience.
Leave Your Paw Prints Behind
A lion has massive paws. Imagine being struck by one of them, let alone by the claws within those huge paws! But consider this: Have you ever heard of a lion wiping away its paw prints so the trail can’t be discovered? As ludicrous as that sounds, it bears an important principle for sales champions. Leave a trail of prints behind.
I’ve had those who insist that leaving your business card, a marketing piece or even signing in at the guest registry of an office should never be done. They argue that doing so leaves a signal to your competition that you were there. Essentially they are suggesting that we should never be seen until it’s too late. While I love the element of surprise – my competitor finding out that I captured the account after the fact – I, frankly, don’t give a damn. My competitors will never outwork me nor will they operate with the same tenacity or persistence that I bring to the table. Frankly I would be surprised if they found out I was there in the first place until it was too late.
Like a lion’s paw prints, the trail of prints you leave behind need to strike fear in the hearts and minds of those who intend to compete with you. This requires real courage and, unfortunately too many sales professionals and businesses prefer to not exhibit that type of courage.
There are people and companies alike who say, often with pride, that they want to fly under the radar. While I understand this concept to an extent, it is clearly a wrong and misguided philosophy. Any opportunity you miss to rattle your competition, to strike fear and uneasiness in their heads, is huge. Your missed opportunity is simply another chance for your competition to gain some boldness, some courage, and you simply can’t afford that kind of risk.
What kind of paw prints can you leave behind? Here are a few ideas that I’ve already addressed but they are worth repeating:
- Eliminate Obscurity — As I shared with you previously, obscurity is one of your major threats. As long as you are not known across the market space, you are not gaining any traction. You must eliminate this as a threat to your future success. Be seen everywhere. Use social media to spread your message. Send regular email communication, such as e-newsletters and business ideas, to every email address you have. Get as active as humanly possible in different volunteer efforts within your community. Simply put: Everywhere your competition looks, as well as current and future customers, they need to see you!
- Leave Your Mark — Provide usable, relevant items that have your name on them to your current and future customers. If you company is unwilling to do this, you need to do it yourself. Imagine for a moment that your competitor walks into a meeting with one of their current customers and in the customer’s hand is a coffee mug with your name on it. Mind blown! “Where else have you been,” they start thinking. It throws them off their game and distracts them. Send handwritten cards to everyone you speak with. Whether you meet with them in person or speak with them on the phone, follow up the same day with a handwritten card. Because this practice is so rare, many people proudly put the cards on their desk or their wall to be seen. If your logo is proudly printed on the card, especially with your name, your competition will see it. And they will begin to fear you.
- Take Current and Future Customers to Lunch — This is a great strategy, especially with future customers, to use. Take them to lunch at a place where you will definitely be seen and, trust me, word will get around. I’m not suggesting you manipulate your future customers; this is truly to build the relationship with them and create opportunities to be in front of them. But when it strikes additional fear into your competition, it’s an extra bonus!
- Over-Commit to Yourself — Just as I explained about over-committing and over-delivering to your customers, start over-committing to yourself. Have the courage to set goals that are truly going to stretch you and force you to go over and beyond normal expectations.
One of the main reasons I write out my goals every day is because this provides extra incentive to me to pursue my goals. I don’t operate from the principle of “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to my goals; my goals are far too audacious for that. I set them high because I really want achieve at that level, but also because they drive me each and every day to excel beyond “normal expectations.”
Too many people, sales professionals in particular, set impotent goals – goals that give no rise (pun intended) to performance. They fear missing the mark and disappointing themselves, so they set “reasonable” goals. The problem is that this is, frankly, boring. When you set “reasonable” goals and achieve them, then what?
You are far more than you are giving yourself credit for. It’s time to grow a pair and start operating a level much higher than you have been. Until you do, you’ll never experience the kind of life you were created for. So go for it!