After years of planning to lose weight and get in shape (sound familiar?), this last year I finally got my act together. Sure, a mild diabetes scare and being termed obese in that clinical manner only doctors can, helped me finally get off my duff.
Over a six month period, I dropped about 20 kgs (nearly 44 lbs) and over the next six months have managed to keep those pounds off – in the bargain my resting heart rate went down to mid-to-low 50s from the mid 80s and I feel great. I’ve written about how I lost those pounds elsewhere, but I realised that some of the very same lessons I learned while losing weight, were equally applicable to being a good sales person. So here are the four lessons.
The executive summary here
- Make every day count – sales is one activity, that you can’t turn on and off, but have to pursue, doggedly, determinedly, daily. No ifs, ands or buts!
- Plan & start your day early As Brian Tracy says, Eat that Frog – get it done first thing in the morning. An early start will set the tone right for each day – planning makes sure that early start is productive.
- Measure but in moderation Have specific goals and targets and measure them diligently. Only what gets measured will improve. Don’t go overboard, results are what count, not just the counting
- Teams make it fun Sales is hard enough with rejections and hang ups – make it easier by working with teams, including partners, customers and competitors and don’t roe a lonely road.
The longer version:
Every day counts Weight loss involves only two things – eating right (usually less) and exercising more. The critical thing is it has to be done every single day, certainly the eating right part. Exercising has to be done at least every other day. Some folks recommend taking Sunday off or even rewarding yourself on Sundays with a treat. Most sales folks get Saturday and Sunday off. Which means the other five days count even more. So make the calls you need, regardless of whether you feel up to doing them, do the research, meet the customers – relentless and daily discipline is critical for steady progress. And you know what? Once it is a habit, it doesn’t feel anywhere as oppressive as it might sound at first. Make every day count.
Plan and start your day early Overcoming 20 years of bad eating habits required me to start my day early and make at least two healthy meals (usually salads) before 7AM, so that when the munchies hit me at 11AM and 4PM I had healthy snacks ready with me and avoided the temptation of empty calories. Of course it also gave me feel a great sense of accomplishment each morning (even righteous at times) and set the tone for the day. Creating a daily selling plan, before even getting into work and often getting in the first few calls or follow ups before 8AM will give your day a great start. A side benefit I stumbled upon was that many hard-to-connect people were much easier to reach at the start of the day. Planning and starting early, meant I could balance some low-hanging fruit with a feel good factor and get chunks of time to handle that hard-to-crack accounts.
Measure but in moderation The first thing I did, once it was clear that I was going to have to lose weight was to get a weigh scale and the doctor did set me a target (yet to be reached). I started with measuring everything – how long and how intensely I exercised and how many miles I covered in a given time. Similarly with my selling, I found initially measuring and staying on course with activities – did I make n calls a day, did I send the info to m people, helped me do the right things – so regardless of how I felt on a given day, I was moving things forward, however incremental at times. Initially when the needle began moving it was very motivating but excessive measurement (such as weighing myself daily) can be both obsessive and at time depressing, for as I discovered our bodies have an ebb and flow of their own – not unlike relationships in a major account or most other things in life.
Teams make it fun Selling, much like weight loss can feel like a lonely pursuit – worse yet a competitive one with the other members of your own sales team and competitors. Rather than envying the guy who’s running faster than you, on the treadmill next to you, working on a buddy system or with a team of running companions made it not only fun but a learning and fulfilling experience. Similarly sharing leads or even scuttlebutt about buyers or opportunities with team members whether in sales, marketing or technology and occasionally with the guy from the other company, always pays off in spades, not just karmically but often in new business and leads of your own.
Enjoy the journey – if it’s a chore, whether exercise, eating healthy or selling, if you don’t enjoy the journey it’s not worth doing!
This article was first published on LinkedIn