Over the last eight years I have done hundreds of one-on-one performance coaching sessions with salespeople, and the single most frequent question I hear is, "How do I get better?" It's a meaningful question and almost always asked with a genuineness that signifies the person speaking really wants help.
I usually respond to that question with a question of my own that goes like this, "Do you really want to know?" You see, at these moments I'm always reminded of a statement by Dr. Lee Thayer, "Most people prefer the problem they have to a solution they don't like."
Step one is to be sure they can get specific on what "get better" actually means-and usually they can. I have spent many hours working on my own personal growth and development plan, as well as learning to coach others about how to effectively answer that question. And while I don't propose that in one short writing I can give a complete overview, what I've attempted to do in the following paragraphs is provide a focal point for those who would truly like to know more. This is an outline of how to get better, so before you read further, pause for another moment and give even more consideration to Dr. Thayer's comment.
Still ready to go forward?
Let me give a definition of the phrase "getting better" using two important areas of your life:
- Getting Better Financially: Growth in your sales volume, annual income or personal net worth. I consider the standard for growth, or getting better, in financial terms to be measured as an increase of 15% per year for your personal net worth, personal income or your sales volume. If you are not accomplishing this for five consecutive years, then you have not experienced real growth and are not getting better financially.
- Getting Better Mentally:
- Setting clear, achievable, exciting and meaningful goals.
- Aligning what you say, what you do and what you think so they all agree.
- Maintaining focus, purpose and intent toward that which you most desire with a minimum amount of stress, worry, anxiety, fear and anger.
You want to "get better," but are not exactly sure why you keep coming up short and what's going to change to make a better tomorrow, next month or next year.
Try this self-analysis:
Desire isyour single most important personal element because itmeasures your passion for success. It also helps to indicate whether you are motivated to earn additional income. Lack of desire is mostoftenindicated when a person continually avoids unpleasant activities . . . how are you doing so far?
If you lack desire, you can look to your destination and compass for help. Destination tells you whether you have clear, exciting personal aspirations (goals); compass indicates whether or not you are on track to reach them by the desired date. If the destination is not established, then it may explain why desire isn't very strong. Desire improves when an individual gets excited about a clear destination and recognizes that they can fulfill that aspiration using their career as the vehicle. If you already have a clear destination yet still lack desire, the hoped for improvement may be more difficult to obtain....check your aspirations again, make sure they are realistic, measurable and achievable . . . now how are you doing so far?
With a clearly established destination, the compass can be set when a realistic plan has been finalized. Once you have clear destination and a working plan, there is finally something to which you can commit. With a strong commitment to the destination and compass, an exercise program can be established. This is a two-part process consisting of preparation (you confirm the steps needed to accomplish your aspirations) followed by execution (you actually do what your exercise plan calls for). An exercise program is the first step in execution and a critical step for success because it not only calls for consistent, daily progress and thinking, but when used effectively, it also predicts future success.
When exercising is consistent, you will begin to see progress on your plan, feel better about your accomplishments and, therefore, your self-image improves. Self-image is the most important part of your attitude. With an improved attitude, bravery slowly begins to improve. You begin to do things you previously were afraid to attempt. Record collection and bravery support style. A supportive record collection (how you think)enables you to develop and improve your style. This is crucial if you wish to take control.
Here is the simple version:
A committed person with a strong desirewho will perform any important role with clear destination and properly set compass, consistent exercise program and supportive record collection, healthy attitude, strong bravery and an effective style will be a WINNER!
These elements are all extremely important, but they should not be confused with an individual's characteristics or traits. While characteristics and traits have permanence to them, these elements are actually conditions. As with the weather, conditions can and often do change rapidly. If you have not perfected each of these elements yet, improve upon them and you will see dramatic results. A formula which might explain how things work is:
Desire + Commitment = Effort
Consistent Effort Over Time = Results!!!!
So where do I start?
Step 1: Find a coach - accountability is always one of the key missing ingredients when there is no growth. There must be someone who understands the process that you're attempting to achieve and will hold you accountable for that process. This can be a spouse, your boss, a sales manager, a personal performance coach ... someone who will be unconditional in holding you accountable.
Step 2: Track these daily activities:
- Prospect Pipeline - how big, how active, how accurate is your pipeline? Your pipeline is an indication of future income. If your activities are not supporting an aggressive, active pipeline, you will shortly find yourself falling behind.
- Aspirations (goals) - there should be a daily, weekly and monthly review of your goals based upon a 90-day calendar. It is okay to set one year, five year and ten year goals, but you cannot achieve any of those if you cannot do the strategic and tactical work required every 90 days to make those steps. Goals should be reviewed on a 90-day basis.
- Lessons Learned - constant update and understanding of the lessons and experiences that you are learning both personally and in business, which can be and will be used going forward.
- Journaling - learning to coach yourself emotionally and mentally with the correct, positive affirmations so that you can have the most effective and direct mental impact on yourself.
- Reading - don't ever stop. You should read one book per month that you are gaining knowledge, alternating every other month between books about positive attitude and technique. One month it should involve books about positive attitude, the next month books about technique.
Illustration by Rob Green