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January 2018
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Question & Answer for sales people

Q.  I have long enjoyed your articles.  I am in my second year of being a full commission salesman and wanted to get your advice.  When I make an onsite call or pick up the 500 pound phone and call the customer, I feel like I am begging for work… asking the headmaster for another cup of gruel.  I know this isn't healthy and I genuinely believe my product is of great quality and valuable to the customer.

I get very anxious and apprehensive, first, to pick up the phone, then, to call the customer and try to wade through my nervousness and then try to act confident to get the sale.  I work out of a home office separated from the main office which is about two hours away.  I can call down and talk to the owner or my production manager for a pep talk or product updates.  My challenge, I guess, is self-confidence and conviction.

A.  Ah…call reluctance.  We've all been there.  There is not a sales person alive who hasn't, at some time or another, felt the same things you are feeling. Congratulations on taking the first step.  You've recognized the problem and correctly diagnosed that the issue lies within you.  I'm not so sure that conviction is an issue.  You've indicated that you are convinced that your product is of great quality and valuable to the customer.  So, I expect that conviction is not the problem.

The issue is your thoughts and feelings.  If you can somehow gain control of those, you'll control your reluctance, you'll make more calls and you'll make them more effectively.  Your results will improve, you'll make more money, enjoy life more, and maybe even retire early to a home in the Caribbean! It does come down to working with yourself, managing your thoughts and emotions.  Sooner or later, almost every sales problem comes down to this.  You recognize, of course, that it is your responsibility to manage your thoughts and emotions. Accepting responsibility is the next positive step to take. 

So, you've diagnosed the problem, and it is you.  You've accepted the responsibility to change you, and you've bought into the idea that you can, and should, do so. Now, the question is how.  There are a variety of specific techniques you can try to gain control.  Keep experimenting with these different ideas until you find a combination that provides you the control that you want.

The first set of techniques is based on this premise:  The reason you are so reluctant is because you are allowing negative thoughts to occupy your mind.  The negative thoughts paralyze your actions.  So, the key is to eliminate the negative thoughts.  You do this, not by focusing on the negative, but rather by substituting positive thoughts.  Here are several proven techniques.

1.   Commit to a life's purpose.  Create a specific, detailed statement of your purpose in life.  Clarify that.  Then post that in front of your work station.  See each day's work, and each set of phone calls, as a means to a much more important end.  Focus on achieving your purpose, and the small things will fall into line.

2.  Focus on a specific and powerful objective.  This is similar to the technique discussed above, only with a smaller focus.  It's not your life's purpose that provides you emotional power and strength; it's some annual or short term objective.  Create a written statement of exactly what you want to achieve or acquire.  Maybe a new car.  Set a deadline. 

3.  Visualize that objective.  Picture it and put it in front of you in your work station.  Now, consider your day's activities to be minor steps in the process of achieving that objective.  It's not about this phone call; it's about doing what you need to do to achieve your objective.  Focus on the objective, and allow it to overpower any negative thoughts that may enter your mind.

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