Nobody likes to think of themselves as a quitter but statistics would seem to indicate the many sales reps tend to quit far too soon and far too easily. In his article, "It's always too soon to quit," Lewis R. Timberlake revealed the following:
- only 10 per cent of people actually succeed at what they set out to accomplish
- another 10% accept defeat and try to resolve these feelings by turning to various obsessions
- finally, 80% of the population simply endures their frustration and blame their lack of success on circumstances
While not referring specifically to sales reps and perhaps a bit harsh, Timberlake's statistics are probably not that far off the mark. The percentage of exceptional and truly unexceptional reps is proportionately small while the vast majority of sales reps sit somewhere in the middle.
Being in the middle of the pack does not constitute failure but it does beg the question why aren't more reps exceptional?
Timberlake's take on the issue is that the number one reason why people do not achieve higher levels of success is because they quit too soon. By quitting he doesn't necessary mean throwing in the towel. He means giving up on actions that lead to success. He means stopping short. Folding too soon. For instance, instead of 75 dials a tele-sales rep might 'quit' at 60; instead of reaching 25 decision-makers for the day they settle on 20; instead of taking a half hour to read a skills newsletter they quit and watch The Simpsons.
Why do Sales Reps Quit
First, it's easy to quit; there's nothing complex about it. The rep simply stops the effort when all that was required was a little perseverance and elbow grease.
Second, quitting is rewarding. Yes, rewarding. When a rep ceases an activity (such as cold calling) the frustration or rejection stops immediately.
Third, there is no immediate consequence. Quitting a task is very personal, silent and unseen, and there is no immediate reprimand.
Fourth, taking action means change and change is uncomfortable even if it is good for the rep. Many reps take the path of least resistance and quit at this stage instead of enduring the short period of discomfort.
Finally, Timberlake points out that many people quit simply because they don't know how to take decisive action to change their circumstance.
10 Decisive Ways To Take Action and Not Quit
If you sit in the middle of the pack and suspect you might be "quitting" on yourself, here are ten decisive ways you can take action, avoid quitting and succeed in sales.
1. Ask Yourself This Question
Ask yourself, "Is this what I want to do right now in my career?" If it isn't, if you're doing the sales job out of desperation and hate it, get out. This is the legitimate time to quit. If your heart's not into it you won't have the motivation. But if you think you can do it, then give it your best shot and continue reading.
2. Shut up and Take Responsibility Now
Stop being a victim. Victims give up. Stop the irresistible temptation to whine, lament and excuse your behaviour. Don't blame your manager, the list, prices, product and the economy for your less than stellar results. Say to yourself, "Okay, things aren't going so well, what am I going to do about it?" This question puts the onus on YOU and no one else to take responsibility for your success.
3. Avoid the Quitters
Avoid co-workers who drag you down with negative talk; those who look to justify their mediocre results by pointing fingers at others or at circumstances. Misery loves company. They'll infect you with their negativity and they'll persuade you to quit on hard work or smart work by offering reasons not to push harder.
4. Hang out with Winners
Get to know, work and hang out with the winners in the office, the top producers; the best of the best. Ask them questions. Learn. Observe. Absorb. You'll see they do the extras here and there. Copy them. Winners don't quit. They finish the task.
5. Find a System
A system is a step by step way or method of doing something. It might be a good opening statement, a killer voicemail template, a technique to get past a get keeper, a way to handle smokescreen objections. Find out what the best of the best do, steal it and apply it. This will reduce frustration and discouragement and increase success. The net result is less tendency to quit.
6. Do it Now! Implement Your System Immediately and Stick to It
Make a small poster with the words "Do It Now" printed in big letters. It's your new motto. When you find your system or you learn a new technique, skill or process, don't wait to implement it. Apply it immediately. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll master it and reap the benefits. Don't wait till Monday. Do it now. Then give it your best shot by sticking to the plan. It takes a little time for results. Don't give up if you don't get immediate success.
7. Get Some Skin in the Game
Here's a heck of way not to quit: get some skin in the game. This means investing YOUR money and your time in self development. It might mean buying a sales book, investing in a webinar, purchasing a sales DVD or downloading a MP3 recording. Once you reach into your pocket and spend your hard earned money you'll find you want to quit less and get an ROI more.
8. Work a Half Hour Longer
Come in 30 minutes earlier or stay 30 minutes longer each day. An extra half hour a day amounts to only 2.5 hours per week but that means 10 hours per month or 120 hours a year. Imagine the dials, connects, visits, presentations and the sales you will make with an extra 15 days a year? Too tough? Start with 15 minutes more a day and you'll still get incremental results.
9. Set Targets
Everyone knows targets are important so commit to a set of goals every day. Set meaningful goals and then post them in front of you so you don't quit when you are five dials short of one decision maker contact away from achieving your objective. Whether it is an activity goals (e.g., dials, contacts, visits, etc.) or a revenue goal (or both), set it and push yourself to get it. Make the extra calls. Push yourself for the extra visit. Git 'er done.
10. Find a Cheerleader, a Coach and a Conscience
Whether it's your manager, a peer, a mentor, a friend or a spouse, find someone to act as a cheerleader, a coach and above all a conscience. Share with them your daily targets and report the results to them every day. They'll give you high fives, they'll give you advice or encouragement or they'll give you a little frown. Whatever the case, you win.
Now you know what to do. Go out and do it. And remember the famous words of Winston Churchill, "Never, ever, ever quit."
About the Author:
Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting and works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively. Author of four highly regarded books on tele-selling, Jim also writes two e-newsletters for tele-sales reps and tele-sales managers. He has also provided training and consulting to audiences, universities, and clients through the US, Canada and Europe.