Sunday, December 25, 2011

Habits, Insanity, Are They The Same?

Nuggets For The Noggin
Habits, Insanity, Are They The Same?
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, December 25, 2011

Alfred Einstein said that insanity can be described as doing the same thing (over and over) and expecting different results.
How would that apply to sales?  It does not matter WHAT you are selling only that you are selling something.

With all things being equal and the economy never changing - a sales career would be steady, rarely increasing; rarely decreasing – all things would be equal.  That’s not life.  The economy changes.  Sometimes cars, homes, toys, golf clubs (had to say that) and twigets (that is a make believe item for You-Know-Who), are easily sold and sell often but sometimes the sales are in the tank.  The difference is usually a result of a changing economy and consumer confidence.
Most people who start out on a sales career are hungry to learn.  They take classes, a few optional but most required.  Think about that for a moment.  If you were going to work on an assembly line building cars and your job was to install only the right side driver’s door, just how much training would you require?  Not much.  But if you wanted to progress and learn how to install the passenger side door, you might need additional training.  If you wanted to learn how to build and install the engine, a lot more training.  But you install just the driver’s side door.  You are paid regularly and you occasionally get a raise usually when everyone else receives one even if one of your doors you installed happens to fall of the car while it is in operation.  And life goes on.

It’s 1990 and another person, YOU, start out on your sales career and you “learn the ropes” either through training or by one-on-one instructions from someone willing to teach you “the ropes” or both.  Why would someone be willing to teach you “the ropes?”  It may be that person’s “job”, or that person may be teaching out of the kindness of his or her heart or both.
That was 1990, today is 2011, 21 years later.  It is easy to identify with 1990 or 2011 but what about the period in between?  Can you imagine what that time frame might represent in regards to a person’s sales career?

Most people, certainly not you, start and eventually finish and the days in between are rarely different than the first couple of days when they started.  They sold like this in 1990 and it may have worked, why change now?  Why go to training, I have heard it all before?  What could someone teach me now I have not been doing for 21 years?
Let’s say YOU need open heart surgery.  Which surgeon would you want operating on you?  A surgeon who learned the practice 21 years ago and then rested on what the surgeon thought he or she knew?  Or would you want someone who over the past 21 years stayed on top of the profession and then operated on you using the latest and newest techniques?  I’ll wait for your answer….

Is it really any different in sales?  If you are reading this, I seriously doubt you are selling a spatula; instead you are probably selling life insurance, automobiles, homes, furniture, appliances, etc. 
Do products change?  When I was a kid people wanted a car that took them from point A to point B and how cool is this, it had an FM radio and air conditioning, WOW!  Now cars park themselves and have computers and television screens not to mention a sound system that would knock your socks off.

Almost every product, unless they do not or need not be improved upon, increased in its function and use and usually increased in its cost to the consumer.  Let’s agree that prices go UP!  If prices go UP and the economy is going DOWN, is it possible to still sell a car or house or whatever using the same methods when the amount of money coming into a household decreases while the prices increase?
Something has to change – YOU!  How do you change?  Typically you will discover if you take a serious look.  This is not the first time business and/or the economy has changed.  Someone has gone through this long before you are forced to experience the change.  What did those folks do to change with a changing economy or innovative product line?  Some changed and experienced success; others - fell by the wayside because they either failed to change with the economy or refused to learn how to deal with a changing economy.  Worst still, they were satisfied with the status quo.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STATUS QUO!  You cannot stand still.  You are either moving forward or you are being left behind.  The later means you are going backwards.
There are good habits and there are bad habits.  In sales a good habit learned in 1990 may be a bad habit in 2011; nothing every stays the same.  Some people start their career with one huge bad habit – taking only the courses that are required.  Required courses will get you started and keep you legal but they will not take you to where you want to go.  They are usually required to meet some organizational requirement to keep you legal not to improve your skills.

Example:  In real estate sales, the government requires a licensee to take a specific number of required hours of training; let’s say 12 hours a year.  Do those 12 hours enable you to become better at sales, better at understanding people, better at negotiating, better at relationship building?  Or do those 12 hours keep you abreast of legal issues that may keep you out of trouble but rarely teaches you how to help you better find solutions for your real estate customers?
What specific classes have you recently attended to help you better understand a changing economy?  What specific classes have you attended to help you better understand foreclosures, short sales and bank owned properties?  What classes have you recently attended to help you better understand the ever changing technology facing every industry?  What specific classes have you recently attended that you were not required to attend?  And…what class did you attend to improve your attitude?  In most cases, not many. 

Thus the reason that fewer than 20% of any sales force makes 80% of the sales.  The 20% does the homework and training required to stay ON top of the profession not just the minimum required to stay IN the profession.

In my opinion the best way to work at mastering your trade is to teach it.  Not what happened 30 years ago but what must happen today to stay atop of your profession.  When you teach, you learn.  When you teach, others learn.  When you teach your profession becomes that much better than what it otherwise might be.  The question is this:  What are you doing to improve yourself and your profession?  If you find it difficult to answer this question, you need to give serious thought to your self-education program and update it.  You do have one, right?  Some may have to initiate it.  No one is going to force you to learn except you.  Need more be said?

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