You don’t need more will power. You need better systems.
You’ve probably heard that slick Zen saying, “chop wood, carry water”… You know why those Zen people say that? Because it’s a boring task but when done regularly it gets shit done and as an added bonus you get to be mindful and practice being in the present. Those Zen dudes were smart!
Actually their is a slick psychological term for using this type of behavior to protect your most valuable asset – your creative energy. It’s called being a Cognitive Miser .
Being a Cognitive Miser is a good thing and is something we should all harness to protect our precious resources of will power. Will power has the tendency to deplete very quickly and turns our motivation muscle into mush when taxed or over stimulated. For example let’s say you have 3 or 4 things to do today and a lot of them are things that you’ve have never done before. For example you have to drive to an appointment in the morning and meet with people you’ve never met. Meeting the new people is probably going to be the easiest part… The most will power depleting part of this event will be trying to find the place, parking and then dealing with other circumstances that come up in route.
For lunch you head to a networking appointment. A perfectly good opportunity for you meet somebody that may be able to help you in your business. Again you’ve never been to this restaurant so you have to find it, park and go in and look for this individual your supposed to have lunch with. You have lunch (Your the healthy type so you ate a salad with a lot of Bleu Cheese on the side) and you successfully do all of this by 2pm and head back to the office.
In the morning as you were planning your day you told your self that you would start making calls to your prospect list after you completed your morning appointments. So you get back to office and sit down in front of your phone. What do you think you are really going to do? Seriously be honest with yourself. I bet you do something else BUT make calls. And guess what – It’s Okay.
Your not a lazy moron. Not at all.
You just happened to overtax your will power…
Probably some people reading this are thinking to them selves that this is complete bull shit and they may be right. But I’m also guessing they are probably the same people who say that if you want something bad enough you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Yes, in some cases that is very true but there are a lot of things all of us really want and I mean really really want. But unfortunately our behaviors don’t demonstrate our desires… Are we bad people then?
Personally I’m sick of this kind of motivational “Just do It” bullshit. If that crap worked then why do we have so many fat people in our country? seriously WHY? Because those little globs of saccharin are for a world loathing of low self esteem. Its not helping.
Meetings are Will Power Sucking Machines.
I used to be in an organization that held “team meetings” every Monday for the sales people. I hated these meetings and so did everybody else. They weren’t informative, motivational or useful in anyway. In fact I would literally have to go home and take a nap afterwords because I was so zapped and depressed after these little get togethers. Hated it. It was one of these type of meetings where your supposed to feel guilty because the company isn’t meeting it’s expectations or better yet people would start fighting and blaming each other for their problems. But somehow we were supposed to be a “team” and get out there and just get it done because, because, because if we cared enough we would all be millionaires!
Basically all that was being said by the executives in these meetings was, I don’t know how to help you because I do the same shit you do and it’s not really working either.
Every Monday morning all of my will power was depleted by noon because of these meetings.
So WTF should we do?
The biggest “secret” to some of the most creative and successful people in the universe is that they focus on what’s important and don’t waste ANY energy on other bull shit. And I mean simple energy sucking obstacles like, am I having coffee today or should I drink a soda instead? They take the coffee and never veer off course. They don’t think about if they look good in grey or blue because they wear grey or blue everyday. They already know they look bad ass in either color so they don’t have to think about it. And in a lot of cases they probably eat the same damn thing for lunch everyday. And for the most part you will rarely find them in any meeting.
Why? Because they intuitively understand the power of being a Cognitive Miser. They know that if they waste any energy on little shit throughout the day then all the energy they need for whatever work is important to them will be diminished and will disrupt their flow. They guard their energy like a newborn.
So how do we do the same? Systems. Habits. Repeated over and over again until they take no mental capacity to do. I know this is easier said than done but here’s a quick way to start.
Mornings are the foundation for a good day. If you want to feel in control and have momentum from the get go then start with your mornings.
Below is a break down of my morning:
4:30 – Wakey wakey hand off snakey!
4:30-5 – Prepare coffee and begin reading a non-fiction book. Sometimes I substitute prayer and meditation. Either way I like to be alone and quiet allowing the world to wake up around me.
5:30 – 6 – Guitar or Mandolin Practice – I believe this gets my neurons firing all cylinders and I get to improve a skill that brings me great joy.
6:00 – 6:30 – Get myself and my daughter ready for the day and out the door.
6:45 – 7:30 – Gym or Run
8:00 – Start work
To some this may look intimidating or even a waste of precious sleep time but for me it is sacrosanct and I rarely waiver on this routine. Yes, life does have it’s way of interrupting and having a 18 month old living with me requires that I have flexibility but for the most part this is the corner stone of a good day for me.
This routine or system has me showing up to work fully engaged and ready to work on the stuff that is difficult; like making cold calls or outlining a meeting with a new business opportunity. So by noon I have taken care of myself physically, spiritually, intellectually and financially. I don’t have to think about this system anymore and it allows me to work full tilt on building my pipeline.
This system requires little maintenance and at any given time I know what I should be doing. Yes, it takes discipline to start but once you’ve been doing it for 3–6 months it takes little effort to keep it going. We all have things that we know we should be doing and it is the little things in our life that left unchecked, can creep in and destroy all of our past efforts. I know because it’s happened to me.
Check the little things in your life that may be zapping your will power everyday and be committed to eliminating them or scheduling yourself around them. Pull a “First things First” approach. Get your priorities lined out and get those knocked out before your Will Power bank gets robbed by some other thief that your not paying attention to. Get yourself a system. Or not. It’s just the rest of your life.
Damn the flu or Water-Elf Disease….Hell I don’t know what’s wrong with me I just feel bad. Trying to make sales calls when you feel like total garbage is about as much fun as wallowing in said garbage…So this week check out this TED talk by Dan Pink on “The Puzzle of Motivation”
Sales is a motivation business but if we can pull together what truly lights our britches then it’s safe to say our sales success will follow.
A ‘new‘ economy and a disappering middle class, jobs disappearing and never reappearing. Incomes replaced by technology and outsourced to who knows where…. It is what it is right now in our “work” world. Personally I believe that if your not working on the following skills your going to be trapped behind the eight ball and habitually under employed.
- Learn how to sell - If your reading this blog you probably are already on this track but take the time to hone these skills. It is probably the most valuable skill you can have. Learning how to sell is like an ongoing personal development course. Typically as you get better at each skill your income tends to get better too. Not a bad trade!
- High Level Communication - I’m an unapologetic introvert and although I’m not shy, I am challenged every time I have to go into a networking event or give a presentation. To make these situations more comfortable for me I’ve had to be proactive in my training. Like anything else learning how to communicate effectively in both professional and sociable situations is a trainable skill. It needs to be worked on continuously. I just recently started going back to Toastmasters; if you don’t know about it check it out. It’s a cheap and effective tool for learning how to become a better communicator.
- Become a good writer - This should really be a sub topic of communication but I see so much bad writing in the business world that I think it is important enough for it to have it’s own number. I flat out suck at grammar. However I do know how to construct a cohesive chain of sentences for whatever audience I’m delivering to. It’s an invaluable skill that will serve you well for the rest of your career and life. How to learn it? Just do it. Start journaling daily if you can. Your writing will transform itself overtime. Read a lot. You will be observant of how an author presents information and soon you will start to weave styles from some of your favorite authors into your own writing.
- Creative Thinking - Creative thinking leads to an extraordinary life. Just look at some of the biggest and best business’s out there. All were spawned from an idea and turned into tangible products and services for our consumption. Ideas are magic but you need to have a lot of them. There are a thousand ways to become more creative and in the spirit of full disclosure this is one I struggle with the most right now. Your brain has to sweat a little each day to become more creative. It’s like a muscle, it needs to be worked out regularly and it will become a lean mean idea machine. Being a lean mean idea machine may be even more important than sales skills. However having both is a killer combo.
Beyond the four skills above you also need to be engaged in other activities outside your day to day work domain. Think reniscance man or women here…. Take on extra carricular activities like learning an instrument. I have been playing guitar and been involved in music for many years. I currently play with a band as a side hobby and a little income. I’m very thankful I have this skill and also continue to work on it. It gives me a ton of pleasure and is another way for me to hone all the skills above. Being a rock star is not easy…
None of this happens overnight but start somewhere and start small. Sign yourself up to visit a Toasmasters group; their is numerous ones in every city. Read a book on sales methods. Having a system will make you better than 90% of the so called professional sales people out there today. Journal for God sakes…. Richard Branson does it so should you! Start coming up with ideas everyday. List ideas until your brain hurts. You’ll think yourself later for it.
Go do it. Go do something. Go and immerse yourself. You will walk out on the other side more competent and confident and that is a truly a rewarding feeling.
Hello 2013! Yes, I know I’m supposed to be happy that you have arrived and we are off to a fresh start. But how fresh is it? I mean some bad shit did happen last year and some of that I still have to deal with. I just can’t tell it to go away and be positive because it’s not going away and it is really no fun to deal with. Ok, well maybe I’ll fake it until I feel positive. That should at least make people around me feel better about themselves since I feel better about me. Or not…
I admit that I have in the past set lofty goals for the new year and was even diligent enough to actually write them all down. I have even gone through the trouble of setting short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. It was fun and yes some of these goals were accomplished. My concern these days is not so much about how to set goals but how to actually accomplish them and be happy with what I have right now.
This isn’t very lofty but it is very real. When you’re dealing with shit, good or bad – typically bad, you owe to yourself to look at the why?
Not being present and not taking care of your shit as it comes up, whether that is in the very real physical world or in your moment by moment mental world, is the best way to make it a really bad year.
I don’t care what kind of goals you set. I don’t care how big your dream board is. I don’t care how many affirmations you have said. I don’t care how much you go to church.
If you don’t take care of the present the rest of your moments, days and year will be spent fixing that moment you didn’t take care of your shit.
I’m not preaching here… Hell I do this every day! I have so much shit I need to fix because I haven’t take care of so many moments. All I had to do was take care of that moment. But I didn’t and we all do this and then we get pissed because “things” aren’t working out for us.
The more work you do on being in the now or whatever you want to call it, I prefer simple awareness, you will begin to see these moments as they come up. You will actually have a brief mental or physical pause that alerts you to the “moment”. It’s like your being and the world are working together to tell you that you better pay attention to this shit right in front of you right now and take care of it; otherwise you will regret it later.
Happens every day. It could be as simple as pausing to open the mail or taking five minutes to clean the dishes or put something back to where it belongs. It’s usually not hard and it usually doesn’t take long to do these little moments. These little moments unchecked can turn into terrors along the way but usually you can fix them but it will take longer than it needed. The really big moments that we procrastinate on can have significant impacts on our lives if we don’t man up or lady up and take care of it.
Have you ever had that moment where you need to have a difficult conversation but you choose not to? Have you ever had that moment when you know you need to change jobs but for now you feel okay where you’re at? These are the moments that add up to huge headaches down the road and a bunch of fixing to get back to good. Wherever that may be…
Ignoring these moments will guarantee you have a shitty year. As usual it’s up to you and I on what were going to do. I don’t like resolutions I think having goals are fine and probably important. But making sure you take care of your moments is all that matters.
Remember it’s just the rest of your life…
“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.” ~ Criss Jami
There is typically no one right way to do anything. Sales is the epitome of this. I have seen people in this career that you would never give a chance in hell. In fact I’ve taken bets on how long a few these people would last and in a lot of cases I have lost. I try not to judge what others success might be based solely on their personality type, but occasionally I take the gamble.
I have seen the most disheveled and unorganized goof balls make a ton of money in sales. It baffles me but whatever they are doing works and I don’t recommend stopping. For the rest of us we need a good process we need a solid belief in our product/service and our company.
For us introverts we need to know that we are not messed up sociopath because we hate networking events!
Personally if I had a choice I would do the majority of my work in a quiet place with limited distractions and the ability to come and go as I need to. I also need a lot of autonomy to be happy. This doesn’t mean that I’m not a team player or antisocial, I’m just way more effective in this environment Vs. a highly charged office environment. Those environments just drain me…
For example I used to be with a company that had sales meetings every Monday morning. I absolutely dreaded these meetings. Hated them. They were mandatory and I guess our CEO thought they were extremely important to our success. I don’t mind a little ra ra meeting occasionally and I don’t mind being motivated by others success’ or even comparing numbers so that we all work towards a common goal. Unfortunately these meetings were 2hrs of brutality. These “Team Meetings” consisted of brow beatings or useless chatter about some big account that somebody was working on and what the team was doing to help or not help. It was horrific. At the end of each of these meetings I was useless for at least 3-4 hours. In fact sometimes I was so depressed after them I would usually take an early lunch and go home to take a nap. Total waste.
That’s why it’s important to know your operating style; especially if you’re an introvert. Typically introverts do not gather energy from these type of gatherings. In fact it drains us of energy and considering the circumstances may put an introvert mentally out of commission for several hours or longer while we recharge and regroup.
Fast forward several years and now I’m in a smaller organization that allows a large amount of autonomy and if we have sales meetings they are highly focused, motivating and short. I leave feeling refreshed and ready to get on task.
Introverts have received a bad wrap in general throughout the last 100 years or so. We have created a society that idolizes the extrovert. We want to be one and we push our kids to be one. We have somehow been led to believe that Extroverts are the ones that get better grades, have more fun, more sex and a better life in general. We stereotype introverts as pasty anti-social recluses that must have some type of mental disorder because they are so “quiet”. I have fallen for this trap and it as an introvert you can let self-doubt start to creep in and feel like you are at a disadvantage because of your natural tendencies to be “quiet”. You may even try to overcompensate for your natural state by trying to be more engaging or seeking therapy because you feel like your not good enough. For introvert with no self-confidence, this type of thinking can be a very slippery slope into depression, anxiety and host of other bull shit that you don’t deserve.
It’s wrong and society is full of examples of introverts who are not only extremely successful but many times more fulfilled than their extrovert counterparts. More and more research is starting to emerge regarding personality traits and success. The good news from this research is you’re not alone, your fine the way you are and you have a lot of successful folks in your corner that like to be “quiet” too.
I am in the process of reading a book by Susan Cain Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
It is very well written and has become a Ah Ha moment for me. It has confirmed what I have always believed… There is nothing wrong with me because I dread the thought of going to a party or networking event. Not because I don’t like people or having a good time but because most likely I am physiologically wired that way. To me that is a huge weight off my shoulders! I guess I can stop blaming my parents for any short comings I have!
I have always been a quiet one. I can make friends easily and I can be very social and in many cases be the life of the party. But I prefer and crave solitude in large doses.
So how does this relate to sales?
In the book, Quiet confirmed to me why I am good at some of the things I do and why others take a considerable effort.
For example, I have no problem with persisting through a large amount of cold calls over a long period of time. I am also very good with follow-up and helping clients dive deep into their problems that I am hopefully able to solve. I love listening and getting personal with clients. In turn they feel they can trust me and that’s what I want to be a “trusted advisor”. Yes, I’m tired at the end of the day from these activities but overall they feel satisfying to me and I don’t dread doing them the next day.
On the other hand, if I have to go to a conference or sit in meetings all day long, then I am toast at the end of the day. I don’t even want to listen to the radio on the way home. I certainly don’t want to have to go out and entertain a client for the evening. Sometimes I do have to do these things but now I am better prepared to manage my energy through out the day if I know this is going to be happening.
Regardless of what your occupation is, I think it’s extremely important to reflect on your personality style. If you’re an extrovert, you need to find an environment that truly stimulates you; otherwise you may go stir crazy. Us introverts and other sensitive types need to do the same thing and try to find an environment that fits our personality well or work with the environment we have to create the space we need to succeed.
Either way the good news for an introvert is that you’re not alone, nothing is wrong with you and take advantage of the huge power you have from being quiet.
“Belief creates the Actual Fact” ~ William James
“Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” ~ George Carlin
My ex-mother in-law told me I could never be in sales because I didn’t have the personality for it.
She was right. I don’t have the ability to be a glad handing, cookie delivering, untalented whore. That’s essentially what she was. If sales were made just because you were nice and had a great personality then a lot more people would be in this career. There are personality traits and behaviors that I believe are more important to an individuals success in sales but I don’t believe it starts with a Tommy Boy/Girl personality.
My list is short…
- High Belief in self
- High tolerance for failure
- Independent self starter
Three traits… That’s it.
Read it again. Is charismatic in there? How about smooth talker? Where’s the nice hair!
I don’t pretend to know your situation but I do know from observation and testing that these traits are what matters most in an individuals long terms success. I don’t know the exact number but I think the average failure rate for all sales people is above 70%. That is really high failure rate if you are looking at making a career choice. Is that something you want to take to your parents right out of college? Hey Mom & Dad I know I’ve just gone $150,000 in debt to get a degree that I have no use for and I am going to take this job that I will probably fail at within in the first two years. Cool huh!
Personally I think the most important trait is a high tolerance for failure. Everyday I fail. Every time I can’t get somebody on the phone, I fail. Every time somebody answers but doesn’t want to talk to me, I fail. When I do get to meet with people it is more likely that they won’t want to talk to me again. I failed. For many people this is a no go. They just can’t stand the continuous failures that pile up like dead fish in a polluted sea.
I’m not saying all these failures won’t ware you down; I know I get worn out. They do and that’s why you have to have a high belief in your self. You have to know, even when reality is stating other wise, that you will win some along the way.
It’s taken me 5yrs of shitty results to realize that I didn’t have an effective sales process in place. With training this is changing and the results are moving in the right direction and so is my confidence. But without a high belief in my self, I would have given up a long time ago.
I was talking with another co-worker the other day about this and it’s a good thing there are so many personality types to make the world go round. My co-worker and I are absolutely the worst at detail work. Fortunately we have an awesome account manager that keeps that part of our world together. It’s really a huge asset. Otherwise we would have some really pissed off clients.
But we also know that our account manager doesn’t have the patience to do what we do. Sure she can make a call to somebody and leave a voice mail but she isn’t going to follow up with them until she gets them on the phone. Only us weirdos are going to do that….
In part two of “Sales Career as an Introvert” I will look at all the misnomers about extroverts Vs. Introverts in sales. It’s just silly but interesting.
Go do something or not…
A good boss will make the difference between you spending your work time in hell or truly appreciating the opportunity you have to be employed. And which circumstance do you think has the most possibility for productivity and success?
I’m fortunate. I have a good boss and have had good bosses over the years that have been good managers but also just good people. If I left an organization it hasn’t been because of my boss it has been because of the management around them that they had little power to change or it was time for me to grow somewhere else. Either way I rarely dreaded going to work with these people.
Do the world a favor be a good boss and if your employed by a good boss be a good employee.