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You’ve attended the sales training seminars. You’ve read the best selling books and turned your car into a university on wheels listening to motivational training CDs in your car between carpools and sales calls. You have paid your dues in the sales trenches.

Yet, you know you deserve more sales. You know you deserve to earn more money. You also know it’s not the economy that’s responsible for your results, or lack of.

The dirty little secret in the world of sales training is that training does not always stick. Great training is worthless for a great number of people. Sales trainers would love for you to think that it is their magic dust that will turn your sales team into trained killers, increase closing percentages and have everyone singing Kum Ba Ya at the next office party. The truth is that effective sales training has very little to do with the sales trainer and a whole lot to do with the trainee.

It’s time to Grow. Up.

Growing up is not about bringing in another motivational speaker to pump up your troops. Growing up is not about putting all your sales hopes in yet another trainer’s basket. Growing up is not about standing over people’s shoulders as they make 100 dials a day.

Growing up is about helping your people understand that they have what they have because they know what they know. To have more they need to know more, but it’s not about knowing more selling skills. Growing up is not about expanding on the knowledge they have now, it’s about deciding to learn more about an area they may have been ignoring, avoiding or just plain never thought to consider. Growing up is about learning and doing something you don’t already know or do. It’s about growing your knowledge of yourself.

It’s time to Grow. Up.

Grounding yourself in reality is the first step to Growing up. People come in two flavors- those who are too hard on themselves and those who are not hard enough on themselves. If you take judgement, ego, trying to look good and trying to prove ourselves out of the equation, perhaps we’d have a better chance to really look at ourselves, but often we are looking at ourselves through a filter of “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll find a way no matter what” or some version in between. Neither extreme is good. Before you can deserve more business and earn more money, you must understand the positive and not so positive aspects about what makes you- you.

Being an optimist is certainly a positive trait, but too much optimism at the expense of a dose of reality can hurt you. Here’s what it sounds like in a selling situation:
Prospect: “We love it. We’ll find the money.”

Salesperson: “Great!” (The saleseperson is thinking, “I’ll send over the paperwork later today.”)

Later that day after paperwork is sent & champagne is poured-

Prospect: “We’re going to have to slow down a bit. I’m not sure where the money will come from.”

At this point the salesperson is just speechless. They thought they heard done deal, but the reality is that they never discovered where the money would come from exactly.

You have salespeople like this on your team. These highly optimistic folks who score low on reality testing lurk everywhere. They are killing your sales and potentially their own moral and there is nothing your motivational trainer can do about it.

– and that’s just one example of what it takes to be grounded in reality about how you think, behave & react.

Re-deciding what you want from your sales force is the next step to Growing Up.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand about what is acceptable behavior, attitude and results from your sales team. It is time for them to draw a line in the sand about what they are truly capable of and wanting to accomplish.

Every woman knows (and reminds men) that it is their prerogative to change their mind. My husband has grown tired of this female trait and that’s when I discovered the power of “re-deciding.” Sometimes we make decisions about how we sell or market certain products or services that served us at one time, but over time they lost their luster. That’s when it’s time to re-decide.

A very successful salesperson I coached was offered a promotion to be the sales manager. He thought that was what he wanted so he accepted the position and within 90 days knew he made the wrong decision. Rather than being miserable in his new role he re-decided the position, had a straight forward conversation with his boss and went back to selling with zero regrets.

Changing your mind may sound like you are wimping out, and it may be exactly what you are doing. Re-deciding is powerfully changing course based on being grounded with new information about yourself and your circumstances at the time.

Owning the good, bad and ugly about yourself so you can powerfully choose to adjust whatever aspects of you are holding you back is the next natural phase of growing up.

I am an optimist who can’t spell and is quick to judge others before knowing their full story. There you have it- some good, bad and ugly about me! If I can acknowledge it then I can own it. Unless I own any aspect of me I am powerless to change it and unaware of how to use the strengths to my full potential.

Working on making the bad better and the good great naturally follows the owning phase of growing up. The best way to improve in any area is to use your natural strengths as a crutch while you work on your improvement areas.

A highly driven entrepreneur I worked with learned through an Emotional Intelligence assessment that he was highly assertive and independent, but very low in impulse control and empathy. The combination did not seem to surprise him since he would regularly tell prospects “yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve done a lot of work in this area. Let me just tell you how we will fix it and then we can get started.”

He decided that it would be valuable for him to work on improving his impulse control and empathy. Now, I am an optimist, but I also don’t walk around with my head in the sand and no matter how much magic dust I sprinkle on him I’m just not going to turn him into “Mr. Empathy” overnight. So, while he was working on empathy for the long term, we discussed ways he can practice being more empathetic (but not overly empathetic) in the short term. Now when he starts a meeting he says early on, “As the president of my company I have seen a lot over the years and my biggest challenge is to not jump in and solve the initial concern you shared with me before I really understand the whole picture. Will you slow me down if I go into problem solving mode too soon?” Prospects always say yes. Sometimes they do slow him down, but most don’t have to because he heard himself say slow down and that’s what did the trick.

How many of your salespeople are working on new things to say to close deals when they should be working on “soft skills” like listening and holding their tongue.

It’s time to Grow. Up.

Understanding others starts with understanding yourself. Try as we might, and unless you live in a bubble you’ve likely tried, we can’t change others. We can only change ourselves. Even more interesting is that what we most want to change in others is what we most want/ need to change in ourselves. It’s easy for me to tell my father to put the cookie down when I notice him gaining weight, it’s another story for me to put the cookie down when my clothes are getting snug.

If you think of selling as being pushy or convincing you should choose another profession. Selling is about helping people discover their issues and connecting those concerns to your products or services that can alleviate those frustrations. The only way to better understand others is to better understand you. Prospects get to be however they want to be. You can’t change them, but you can learn to understand your triggers, stressors and strengths so you can be your most effective when interacting with others.

The natural byproduct of the steps in the Grow Up movement are more potential, more focus, more fun and more sales. Producing results is certainly the goal, but producing consistently in spite of the marketplace, competition, pricing, etc. is the real game.

The biggest problem with traditional sales training of old is that we were taught sales is “a numbers game” and that it’s only the results that matter. Life is a journey. You are here to enjoy the ride. What if sales was the byproduct of Growing Up. What if you got to understand yourself and along the way that deeper understanding helped you close more deals. Would selling be more fun and more lucrative? You bet.

It’s time to Grow. Up.


Merit Gest teaches people how to become Possibility Thinkers at conferences around the globe. To book Merit for your next event, please call 720-980-1286, or visit www.MeritGest.com

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