The TACTIC: Never manage your numbers; manage your behavior (Part 1)

Tactics Sales


“Oh, I see what you mean,” said Melinda to Janet just as she cracked open the lobster claw. Melinda and Janet had arranged to meet for lunch at a locally famous lobster shack right on Long Island Sound.

“No dollar amount goal, that’s what really works for me,” continued Melinda.

In a shocked voice, Janet asked, “You don’t have a dollar amount goal?”

“No, I gave it up. Oh, to keep everyone at the office happy, there is one, but I don’t pay any attention to it.”

“I suppose you can get away with it, with what you earn. This lobster is really good. So what really keeps you going?”

“Kind of strange… once I started concentrating on helping folks discover needs for our products, if they had any, it was really clear that the only thing I could manage was my behavior.”

“Like how?”

“Well, it’s so simple and clear to me now. I can’t control whether they buy. I can only control how I respond to what they say. And that’s all I can do.”

“So…” replied Janet with a confused look.

“Try this one,” responded Melinda with a smile, “Janet, the price of your product is too high.”

Janet looked up for a second, confused, and then without thinking, responded, “Well, if you order immediately then perhaps I can convince my manager to work in a reduction.”

“That’s exactly what I mean. You had no control over yourself just then. I gave you a standard line, and you automatically responded. How do you know I wasn’t ready to order immediately, and now you’ve just gone and given me an unasked-for discount? You had no control over your behavior, and as a result, you just cut how much money you would have made.”

Janet stared at Melinda for a moment, not sure if she was angry or just surprised at how right Melinda was.

“Am I right that you are annoyed at the moment?”

“It’s not too pleasant to be told you have no brains.”

“It’s not a question of brains, Janet, just one of self-control. You have to learn to take a mental deep breath before you respond so that you can consider what to say.”

“So what’s the first thing I should do?”

“Think of the last four sales calls you made, but instead of looking at the prospect, look at yourself. Enjoy the rest of your lunch. I’ve got to get going soon. Let’s catch up next week.”


Melinda has focused on what affects her earnings. She works to control her behavior.


Many salespeople are of the belief that they can control the behavior of their prospects. It is not possible to control the behavior of another person unless you resort to tyrannical conditions. Even then, under the worst of conditions, you always have people who rebel.

Anyone who has children knows that while sometimes you can control a small amount of behavior, most often, and at best, you hope to guide the behavior. Once the children are in their teens, well, you already know that all bets are off.

If this is the case with one’s own children, how is it possible for any salesperson to even begin to believe that the prospect can be controlled? You can’t hit him. You can’t send him to his room. You can’t ground him for a month. There is absolutely no way to control the behavior of a prospect or a customer.

The best you can do with your own child is to guide him along by taking care of your own behavior. Why not do the same with prospects?


The first step in managing your behavior is accepting the reality that you cannot manage someone else’s behavior. If you can accept this fact, you will be on your way to a much more interesting and financially rewarding way of working as a salesperson.

The second step is like being the proverbial fly on the wall. You need to step outside of yourself and see what you do and say when you are with a prospect or customer. Instead of waiting to be prodded by the prospect into reacting, learn how to let him know that playing a game won’t work with you. In essence, you have to give up acting like an “I can overcome any objection in the world” robot. That’s not easy. Few salespeople can give up this security blanket. But then, there are always just a few salespeople who consistently are at the top year after year.

The third step involves taking some chances with prospects. Instead of acting like you always have in the past, you, now in control of your behavior, will be responding differently. Prospects have been trained to expect the same blather from every salesperson. When you come along and don’t act like all the rest, they will try their best to get you back on track. Don’t give in.


Since your sales volume is based on how you behave, manage your behavior instead of wasting time trying to manage anyone else’s behavior.

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