Be a life-giver… not a life-sucker
By Colleen Francis
When dealing with problems or adversity, salespeople generally fall into one of two categories—they're either 'life suckers' or 'life givers'. Life suckers blame others for their actions and results, whereas life givers take responsibility and ownership for their actions and get results. The top sales people are life givers. Those who are always looking for solutions to challenges are salespeople with a life giving attitude. They embrace the fact that their jobs—our jobs!—require that they act responsibility. Rather than wasting time tracing blame, they move forward by creating solutions.
As responsible adults, nobody makes us think or do anything. We are responsible for our actions as well as our thoughts, opinions, assumptions and conclusions. They belong to us. We choose to think or act a certain way. Taking responsibility is a matter of choice.
When someone says: the customer stressed me out; the prospect pressured me; or my manager made me do this, what they are really saying is that others control them. It's as if they expect us to believe that some kind of "others" phantom crept into their body, taking control of what they think and do. Life does not imitate a Hollywood horror film. It's up to each of us to choose how we feel and act.
As a side note - as a consultant I regularly am asked to evaluate talent on a sales team. There are tell tale signs of failure to me. One critical sign is the answer to this question:
Tell me about your last loss. What happened? A sales rep that makes excuses - "its shipping's fault we lost the deal" is doomed to fail. A sales rep that takes ownership - "I should have qualified the lead better" is destined for greatness. My accuracy at determining success or failure of a rep is 95% with this one question.
Sure, bad things can happen—and they happen even to the best salespeople. None of us can choose or control every event that occurs in our lives—especially the ones that affect our business. Have you ever lost a sale to a prospect that was acquired before you had the contract signed? Have you ever had a sale to a government department wind up in limbo because of an unexpected spending freeze imposed while you were in final negotiations? These are examples of situations that as salespeople we can't control—but we can always choose our response to how to deal with them.
Consider the conduct expected of first-year cadets at military colleges across North America. They are only allowed to respond to their instructors in one of three ways: "Yes Sir," "No Sir," and "No excuses, Sir!" If a cadet fails to complete an assignment (and the circumstances are deemed irrelevant), the cadet must assume responsibility by stating "No excuses, Sir!" The purpose here is to create an ownership (life giving) attitude. It's that kind of self-discipline and ownership that will serve you well in your career.
How often have you neglected to follow-through on a commitment you made to yourself: making a specific number of cold calls in a day; completing a tough assignment; hitting your targets; or closing a sale with a specific customer? Does your personal life often reflect this habit? For instance, do you ever start a diet, an exercise program or a hobby and never carry it through? Has it ever reached the point that when you decide on a goal, your inner voice says: "Who are you kidding? You'll never follow through!" Those kinds of lies undermine your confidence to address issues and to effect change. That's why it's important for you to train and condition to believe yourself.
Here are four exercises you can try every day to make sure your attitude is an ownership attitude:
1. Associate only with life-givers
You have complete control over who you spend your time with, so choose wisely. Being around positive people will improve your outlook and your attitude. This is not easy and it does require cutting off access to people you know are life suckers. Short term pain for long term gain - and profits!
2. Look good to feel good!
The following exercise is something learned from Anthony Robbins, a master of human performance. Take note of your physiology when you're feeling your best—when everything is going your way and you're in a terrific mood. How do you walk? How loud is your voice? Do you gesture? Are you sitting or standing? Do you talk quickly or slowly? Do you stand tall or slouch?
Once you've made your list, carry it with you. Memorize it. The next time you're in a slump and want to change your attitude, pull out your list and begin consciously acting the way you do when you're feeling great. It may feel unnatural at first, but soon you'll find yourself in a better mood. Remember, it's easier to act your way into a new sense of feeling, than it is to feel your way into new sense of acting!
Stop showing up to work looking your ½ best. Press your pants, put on a clean ironed shirt and dress like you want to strut! Seems trivial I know but its true. The way you look on the outside will reflect the way you feel on the inside. My mother-in-law likes to remind me that there is no such thing as an ugly person, just a lazy one! Ouch… I think about that too often when I am caught grocery shopping in a ball cap and sweats. (As they say, the truth will set you free… but first it will really piss you off!)
3. Laugh, learn and take responsibility
When something bad happens, look for the good in it and take full responsibility for the bad. Among salespeople, those who aren't afraid to admit when they're wrong are the same who comprise the ranks of the top performers. Customers don't have time for mistakes and blame. Being honest or "coming clean" makes you more trustworthy and earns you something that's truly invaluable—a reputation for integrity. So the next time you make a mistake, ask yourself what you can learn from it. Then take that lesson and use it.
4. Train your mind for success by achieving a realizable goal every day
In life, people often get into a negative rut because they feel they aren't making progress. If that sounds familiar, then try setting a small but achievable goal for yourself every day. Make a list. Write down each goal, and when you've achieved each one, cross it off. Before too long you'll have a pattern of successful achievement that will help you develop a pattern of positive thinking.
5. Keep a success journal
Make note of your success and visit them regularly. It's important to remember how far you have come and celebrate those successes. Each time you achieve a goal, recognize that accomplishment before you go on. Reward yourself. When you are facing a tough time, pull out your success journal and get excited about all the wins you have had. Remind yourself, if you were successful yesterday, you can be successful tomorrow.
Take ownership of your behavior and assumptions. Remember, no one made you come up with your thoughts, opinions, assumptions and conclusions. And only you can steer things right.
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Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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