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The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

The STORY:

“I don’t see why you have to hire him to do that for us. We could do it ourselves,” responded Adam somewhat annoyed.

“Adam,” said Martin, the owner of the business, I’ve heard ‘if we could do it ourselves,’ the last four times I’ve suggested going outside for training. If we could do it, why haven’t we?”

“You know as well as I do that the last few times we set out to do this type of prospecting none of the salespeople, at least none of the long-timers, wanted to have anything to do with it. If they don’t support it, the newer salespeople won’t.”

“Maybe they should support it,” responded Martin, who was getting angrier by the moment. “Look, Adam, I’m a little ticked off at the minute. Let’s pick this up tomorrow after I cool off.”

“Fine, no problem, first thing tomorrow morning.”

Adam walked back to his office, hoping that Martin wasn’t going to hire this guy to show his salespeople how to prospect off their customer lists. With all the things we are doing now, thought Adam, what’s the point of wasting time on this? Sales are good, the average is moving up despite the trend in the industry to be flat or slightly down. I could do that training anytime I wanted. Besides, the old-timers like me have been around. Anytime we want, we could just pick up the phone and make those calls. Anytime.

The following morning, Martin was delayed coming into the office and didn’t get there until after lunch.

“Cheryl,” he asked one of the salespeople, “do you have any idea where Adam is?”

“Yes, he finally headed out with Bill, one of the new people, after waiting for you to come in this morning. I don’t think he’ll be back until tomorrow.”

“Thanks,” responded Martin. “By the way, did he mention anything about some new prospect training?”

“Oh, that. Yes, it was something he could show us anytime we felt we needed it.”

“Do you feel you need it?”

“No. Besides, anytime I did, he could show me.”

The RESULT:

Adam uses “I could do it” as a way of saying “I will never do it.”

DISCUSSION:

The old saying that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” might apply here. I could quit eating too much, but I just bought a bag of candy. I could have done better yesterday, but there’s no point in letting yesterday bother me today. I could do exercises that would get rid of the extra 30 pounds, but the holiday is coming, and I’ll exercise after it. I could pick up the phone and call all my customers and get referrals, but I need to read this product literature. I could teach my salespeople how to make referral calls anytime I want, but at the moment they already have a lot to do.

There are two reasons people use “could do it.”

The first is as a way to put off doing something that they really could do to the point where it isn’t done. The reasons for “it” never getting done are as numerous as grains of sand. Bottom line—the task is not done.

The second way it is used is to hide, from himself and others, the fact that the person could not do “it.” I could speak in front of a large group of people, but unfortunately my accent makes it difficult for people to understand me so I don’t. But I could. Bottom line—the task is not done.

If you find yourself saying, “I could do that,” and then never doing it, which reason is yours? You are capable and don’t? You are incapable and don’t?

APPROACH:

If you are capable and don’t, then you need to seriously review your role as a sales manager. Regardless of what you might think, the salespeople will view you as a role model for how they should handle difficult situations. If you demonstrate that you have the knowledge to deal with a situation, but don’t, you will find the salespeople doing precisely the same.

Should you be incapable in a situation, and as a result avoid this situation at all costs, the salespeople will also pick up on precisely what your inability is. Some of them will use this inability to keep you in place.

There is, however, an alternative to being either of the above two. Instead of saying, “I could do that,” and then don’t, say, “I will do that” and do it.

This may sound like just a matter of word play, but it’s not. While that could happen, the chance of your not following through is small. The salespeople will very quickly see a difference in you for the better.

THOUGHT:

Substitute “I will do it” for “I could do it” and see yourself in a whole new light.

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S Sandler Training Finding Power In Reinforcement (with design) and Tactics for Sales Managers are registered service marks of Sandler Systems, Inc.

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