The TACTIC: Never manage your numbers; manage your behavior (Part 2)

Tactics Sales


“Melinda,” called out Janet, who was sitting on the far side of the restaurant’s stone terrace. She then raised her arm and waved. Ah, good, she sees me, thought Janet, here she comes. I wonder what that outfit costs?

“Janet,” said Melinda sitting down opposite her, “how are you? It doesn’t seem like a whole week has gone by.”

“I can agree with you there. Let’s eat and then later we can talk,” said Janet, and Melinda agreed.

“So,” began Janet as another two glasses of iced tea were served, marking the official end of the meal, “I thought a lot about what you said last week. That the only thing you can do is control your own behavior, not the prospect’s. I did as you suggested. I reviewed what I had done with my last four sales calls, focusing on myself. I was shocked.”

“When you say ‘shocked,’ you mean…?” asked Melinda.

“When I look at myself sitting there…” she stared off, not seeing anything beyond, before continuing, “it was like I was a rat in a maze, only responding in the simplest way to being shocked. I had this blank look on my face. You want me to smile, toss me a few nice words, I smile. ‘We’re glad you came, Janet.’ Smile. ‘Nice presentation, Janet.’ Smile. ‘Good answer, Janet.’ Smile.’ It was like watching myself sleepwalking. It was just like you described. I had no control over what I was doing.”

Melinda watched carefully, waiting for Janet to refocus her eyes. She’s taken the first step, she thought. It’s not pleasant to find out you are a robot who just waits until the prospect programs you. When the eyes finally came back into focus, Melinda said, “It is very difficult to accept. I know—I went through the same shock. Men have even a tougher time accepting it.”

Janet laughed. “I’d be surprised that any of them could ever admit they weren’t the captain of the ship.”

“Let’s not worry about them,” Melinda said with a grin, “the real issue is what can we do about you?”

Janet looked around at the remaining patrons and asked, “I see all of these people and wonder how many of them know that they don’t have to act the way they do. It’s OK to have more than one response option; in fact, it’s better for you.”

Melinda reached over and picked up the check. “You should keep working on the options. That is the key. If you get cornered with one, give me a call. We’ll talk.”


By taking a step back from herself, Janet is able to see and hear what she is saying for the first time. As a result, she’s in a position to control her behavior if she chooses to do so.


Everyone has certain times during the day when you go through the motions. Have you ever driven to work and at some point realized that you have no memory at all of the last couple of miles?

The same situation exists with salespeople in a selling situation. You are with a prospect, in person, on the phone, wherever, and in most instances, you have little awareness of what you are doing. You are so busy concentrating on what the prospect is doing, you have lost touch with yourself.

Find this hard to believe? Write down everything you said to a prospect seven days ago. First thing you’ll find yourself doing is trying to remember who you saw seven days ago. But don’t reach for your calendar to complete the job. Hard to do, isn’t it?

Now write down what you said in response to what he said. Can’t remember exactly? Are you now saying to yourself, “Most of my encounters are similar so I usually say and do almost the same things… here’s what they are.”

Isn’t this a terrific example of going through the motions? You say and do almost the same things.

In other words, you have no idea what you actually said and did because you are not aware of yourself.


Immediately, at the end of every sales encounter, write down the phrases you use that you feel you use all the time. Then write down what the prospect said that caused you to use those phrases. Now—and this is meant seriously—the really hard part happens.

Come up with alternatives to what you normally say and do. If the prospect asks a question, reverse the question. If the prospect makes a statement, but you see it as a question, resist the urge to answer. Turn it around and ask him. You are working to develop alternative behavior for yourself. Within the limits of good manners and courtesy, any alternative behavior you devise is OK.

Begin using an alternative behaviors. See what happens. You’ll feel uncomfortable, but don’t let that stop you. Nothing bad happen? Try another.

Keep working on recognizing what you are doing when you are doing it. Be the fly on the wall. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.


Knowing what you are doing is the first step in changing what you are going to do in the future.

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