In the world of sales, success is measured by how much you sell. The end game is converting potential clients into cash.
I have worked extensively in the financial planning sector, and within that culture of selling, there is a high focus on how many points you gain, which are displayed on a leaderboard. Yip everyone can see who is coming first, as well as last. Sadly this method is adopted as a way to motivate, however, it serves more to demotivate. You will always have your gifted salespeople, and all too often they will dominate the leaderboard. The ones that tend to sit somewhere in the middle and below often will feel there is no point in trying because they will never get to number one. They will never be as gifted as the top 3, so what is the point of trying? The leaderboard method is completely outcome-driven and encourages each planner to only focus on that. When the outcome is the only focus, this sets one up for disappointment and a sense of failure. Self-esteem and a sense of achievement are put into the hands of each prospect. They have the ultimate power to say yes or no, and if they say no what impact will that have on one's value as a salesperson? Outcome-focused sales serve to disempower not empower. It creates more doubt in one's ability. With doubt comes low confidence and when confidence is low, then resilience is low. The ability to come back from each setback gets harder and harder.
The trick to confident selling and maintaining one's faith in their ability is to trust the process of selling and surrender the outcome.
The process is one hundred percent in your control. If you break down the sales process, and it may vary slightly according to each industry, but principally it is universal, and rate your ability to accomplish each action within the process, I bet you will rate yourself at a perfect 10.
I will give you a short example of what I mean
Step one: Call prospective clients
Step two: Make an appointment
Step three: Establish their needs
Step four: Present a solution
Step five: Process the order
Step six: Send invoice
Step seven: Deliver the Product
The above example is extremely simplified and rather generic, however, it serves the purposes I need to demonstrate why process focus is so important.
Have a look at step one, and rate your ability out of 10 to make a phone call. Now, most of my clients will rate their ability to call a new prospect based on their confidence which is rather low because of their innate fear of the word no (refer to my previous 2 articles which focus on the fear of no and how to reframe it from foe to friend). Of course, if you have a fear of rejection, it is easy to think you are not capable to call, but this exercise is not about low self-esteem it is about rating yourself from the place of physical ability and skill set.
The question to ask is, how capable am I out of 10 to physically pick up my cell phone and dial a number and then talk to the person on the other end? Now unless you have some physical disability, like no sight or hearing or hands or a tongue, I would guess your rating will be a resounding 10.
The same goes for your physical ability to make an appointment. Ask yourself if you are capable of looking at your diary and finding a time that works for both parties, making a diary entry, and sending a meeting request. Assuming you have no disabilities to speak of that could genuinely prevent you from doing this, it would then be safe to say your ability is again a resounding 10.
The purpose of this type of rating is really to demonstrate to yourself that believing you are not capable stops you from seeing and affirming any abilities and skills you possess.
Low confidence may be a very real thing, however, it does not have the power to render you a complete blob. It certainly cannot rob you of many skills and abilities that you have acquired since birth. You are just as capable as the person at the top of the leaderboard.
When you break down the physical ability you have to accomplish each step in the sales process, you will both have the same rating, a perfect 10. The only thing that might separate you, is experience and confidence. Experience is only gained over time and confidence is gained in the focus on one's ability and the willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone and your desire to learn and grow. Everyone starts as a novice. I have learned many new skills along my travels, and I was pretty lousy at first, all fingers and thumbs, but as I persevered I got better and better. Soon I was no longer a novice. As my confidence grew, so did my belief in my competence. As I became more competent, I got more confident. Competence feeds confidence and confidence feeds competence. The way to combat low confidence is to get back down to basics and begin to identify and affirm what abilities you do have. Rating each step in the sales process is a great start. It helps to start seeing yourself as you are rather than what you think you are. You can begin to identify the areas you do need to work on. When you have a clearer picture of one or two areas that are holding you back and you get help and support in learning how to shift and change that, you cannot help but feel more empowered and in control.
Focusing on the process gets you back to focus on your abilities and your choice to execute those abilities. It begins and ends with you. It fosters a new type of responsibility and reduces the blame game. We all love to justify why we are not achieving things, but every justification is a shift in responsibility.
If your goal is to earn R50 000 a month and you only earn R25 000, taking an honest look at what part of your sales process you did not execute is key. If you did not make enough calls, the only person responsible for that is you. You have proven you have a 10 out of 10 skill set, so what stopped you? You may find that consistency is a problem. This then gives you an insight into an area you need to work on. Then you can write down a step-by-step plan to ensure better consistency, and again you rate your ability to execute each step, and then you focus on the process of consistency. What action do I need to take that is fully in my control to achieve the outcome of consistency? Consistency is the outcome and there is a process to acquire it. Focus only on that process and the outcome is a given.
The process ensures the outcome. The outcome has no bearing on the process. If you focus only on outcomes you rob yourself of the most wonderful journey of learning, growing, and identifying what you are good at and what you need to work on.
We are all a work in progress and no one has arrived. Outcomes are not a destination, they are just an affirmation that your process is working and you are doing it well, or not so well. Just because you don’t get a great outcome it does not always mean you are not practicing a great process.
Outcomes are more likely to be affected by many external variables, but the process is something that you will always have control over and the only variable that is likely to affect it, is you.
So when you go through a tough week or month where outcomes are affected negatively, first measure how well you executed the process and whether that impacted the outcome. If the answer is yes, then learn from your mistakes and make the changes you need to make. If the answer is no, then it is safe to say that the outcome is being affected by forces that are far from your control and this enables you to effectively separate yourself from the setback by acknowledging that an outcome is never fully in your control and someone’s no is not a reflection of you, but rather a reflection of their free will, their right to choose or maybe they have said no because world events are affecting jobs and affordability right now. Those forces at play have nothing to do with you. If you believe that an outcome defines you, then you are in for a rude awakening and a career in sales fraught with extremely high and devastating lows.
Focusing on the process is the only thing that will ground you in the highs and anchor you in the lows. It ensures balance and stability and keeps you focused on what is constant. The process is the foundation for building anything worthwhile. An outcome is fleeting and lasts but a moment. In the world of business, we are only ever as good as our last sale. We are in an endless cycle of going back to step one and through to the end. Belief and confidence in the process are what will always give you the edge over your neighbor. It will ensure your resilience in the tough times and take you to new heights in the great times.
Stop looking at the leaderboard. The only person you should be competing against is yourself. Progress comes one small step at a time. Commit to a journey of learning and growth and one year from now when you look back, you will be astounded at just how far you have come.