Melinda walked into the office 15 minutes later than usual. Janet, the secretary, could not help noticing because the office staff set their clock by Melinda’s morning arrival.
“Car trouble?” she asked, looking toward Melinda.
“No,” responded Melinda, slightly annoyed that she was 15 minutes later than normal. “One of the roads I take was blocked by construction work. I seemed to sit there forever, so I ducked down this side road. Turned out to be the long-cut instead of the short-cut.”
“That’s too bad. Seems they are digging up everything around here,” added Janet sympathetically.
“Actually, now that you mention it, it might not have been a bad thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I wound up on the main road about five miles back from where I normally get on. There was this large office building right on the corner. Never knew it was there.”
“Those are still sprouting up back up where you are,” said Janet. “So what about the building?”
“I guess because I wasn’t sure where I was going, I was paying more attention than normal to what was around. From the companies listed on the building sign, looks like there are some in there that could use what we sell.”
“Well,” said Janet, “you never know.”
Two weeks later, Melinda had called on two of the companies in that building. Three weeks after that, she closed a deal with one of them for substantial business.
All because I was forced to change the way I always go to work, she thought to herself. The commission on this one deal will pay for my Maui trip. Wonder if I could close business there?
Melinda made a simple route change on the way to work. The change was not a major one. The result of the change was major. All it took was an extra 15 minutes one morning to work. And she just may close business on Maui.
Why do so many salespeople get into a rut? The same reason everyone else gets into a rut—I’m comfortable, and I know exactly what is going to happen. There are no surprises because if I’m surprised, I might not be able to deal with it.
Fear. Fear that changing a pattern will result in loss of control. No one wants to lose control. As a result, patterns of behavior both personally and professionally become the norm. “We (or I) have always done it this way. It might be better another way, but why take the chance?” How limiting.
Look for a new way to do something you have always done the same way. This is tough to do, but once you start, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
For example, most salespeople travel the same route every day to the office. As a result, the mind goes blank during this time. You are on autopilot. Change the route, and you will not only find that you are stimulated to think differently, you may also notice a business in passing that uses what you sell. You will never know about it unless you change your patterns.
Another example is what you say on the phone to a prospect. Whether you realize it or not, you probably have at most two approaches that sometimes work. Unless you tape yourself talking, you have little if any sense of what you are saying. Listen to the tape. Now try a new approach or modify the one or two you have been using. What have you got to lose? What could you gain?
Do you find that prospect meetings always follow the same script? Well, if you are pleased with your closing rate, don’t change the script. However, if you are not, consider changing the script. You can always go back to what you were doing and earning before.
Are there office procedures that have been in place “since before time began?” While you may not be able to arbitrarily change them, you should consider alternatives and bring them up. Unless you work in a Charles Dickens novel, you may suggest a change that results in increased efficiency and quite possibly more money in your pocket.
If you keep doing it the same way, is it because you are making more and more money, or is it because that’s the way you’ve always done it?
©1992, 2007 Sandler Systems, Inc and TEM Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. S Sandler Training Finding Power In Reinforcement (with design) and Tactics for Sales Professionals are registered service marks of Sandler Systems, Inc.