George had been closely watching the way Meg went about her day for the past couple weeks. Why is it, he kept thinking to himself, that she does the same things the rest of us do, yet does so much better. We all follow up, yet she always closes more business. We all ask for referrals, yet she always gets more than anyone else.
“George,” said Meg, not two feet from where he was sitting, “what’s up?”
“What?” he responded.
“I feel like I’ve been under a microscope the past couple weeks,” she stated with a smile.
“Well, I’ve been trying to figure out how you do it,” he said, waving his arm over the desk. “We all do the same things as you, follow up, referrals, and the rest, yet you do so much better. How?”
“Tell you what, if I tell you, you have to buy me lunch whether you take my suggestion or not.”
“Deal. Now what’s the secret? Do you cast spells?”
“Worse. Wait a minute.” She walked across the office to her desk and returned with her ever-present spiral notebook. “This,” she said, “is my secret weapon. This and one other thing.”
“What’s the one other thing.”
“Knowing that if I ever start thinking again that every day is a brand new day, I have to get out of sales.”
“That’s my favorite phrase; it keeps me going.”
“That was my problem when I first started. Every day I came to work, I started over. Back then I didn’t come to work carrying what I learned the day before with me. Now,” she said shaking the notebook, “I do, because I jot down what worked.”
“That’s it?” asked George.
“That’s it. Now I’ll prove to you it works. Tell me what you learned yesterday about sales.”
“Easy. Don’t give pricing too early.”
“You learned what not to do,” she said with a grin, “A negative.”
“Tell me anything you learned that’s positive in the past month . . . anything at all.”
George sat thinking for a few minutes before finally saying, “Strange, all I can remember are negatives.”
Meg remembers what works. George remembers what doesn’t work. Which works?
The story may sound like philosophical hairs are being split. One may be tempted to dismiss the story as just another parable about why one should think positive thoughts. But consider the point being made. If you can tell me all the things I shouldn’t do, in order to do something, does that mean I’ll know how to do it?
Try this little mental experiment. Think of all the things you shouldn’t do when walking across a busy intersection. If you spend more than 10 seconds thinking, you could easily come up with four or five “don’ts.” Now think of the one positive thing you should do when walking across a busy intersection. “Pay attention to where the cars are.”
Now, if your job was to walk across busy intersections, would it be easier to remember four or five don’ts, or one positive? Remembering what works is easier.
Sales is no different than walking across a busy intersection. If you remember what works from one day to the next, it’s easier to do the job.
Pick a time in the next 24 hours when you are not at work. Sit down and jot down all of the positive sales “stuff” that you did that worked in the last 24 hours. Worked must be defined as something that resulted in a sale or resulted in a prospect moving toward a sale.
Unless you are already a top performing salesperson, this “easy” task will be quite hard. Most of the stuff you will write down will be negative—things not to do.
Why are positive things—things that do work—so hard to remember? Perhaps it has to do with our culture that tends to say what not to do, and leaves what you should do entirely up to you.
This simple task of actually writing down what worked is, initially, almost impossible to do. Why? You are conditioned to look at the negative. The sooner you force yourself to do this simple task on a daily basis, the sooner you will find yourself doing better as a salesperson.
One last word of warning—if you don’t write down what worked, you will not remember what worked.
One advantage of remembering the past is that you are not condemned to repeat it unless it is to your benefit and you choose to.
©1995, 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.