I was babysitting my 8 –year old Niece this week and we had a few hours to spend together so we took a walk along Cherry Creek. We got to a place that had great flat stones for skipping. Jailynn said she was “not very good at that”. I shared, “That’s OK Honey it just takes practice.” She replied. “And courage,” From the mouths of babes.
How many times have we decided not to pursue something out of fear? Perhaps we were afraid that we might look bad, we might make a mistake, or our feelings might get hurt. Jailynn is right it takes courage to continue to practice to the point where we get good. Winston Churchill said,
“Courage is rightly esteemed as the first of human qualities, because it is the quality that guarantees all others.”
Think about it. How many sales reps have failed because they ultimately did not have the courage to cold call? How many managers have failed because they did not have the courage to admit they did not know it all, and to then call on their team, for support? I think Churchill got it right; courage is first because unless you can get started, nothing happens.
So what is courage and how do we develop this quality so that we can be successful? Merriam Webster’s defines courage as:
The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
I remember my first days as a sales executive. I had all of the training and experience to be successful, but I did not learn how to overcome my fear of rejection and the phone. As a result, I did all sorts of other things until it was find a new job or be fired. I found a new job. Fortunately for me, these guys had a methodology to get over my fear of the phone,
You see I went to work selling for a collection agency. As a part of my training, I had to spend 30 days on the phone collecting bills. Let me tell you, you hear a lot of no’s when collecting bills. What I also learned was that sometimes a “no” today, can be a “yes” next week.
I then completed the rest of my training and started selling. We had very quantifiable activities and goals to measure our progress. We traced every dial and every conversation. We tracked every appointment. And if you weren’t making calls, it would be obvious very quickly. Once again, I learned that no today could be yes tomorrow with a combination of persistence and value.
I remember one of my very first appointments. I called Ed P. He took my call and after I introduced myself and the purpose of the call he replied, “Oh yeah aren’t you the company that had and got fired from the XYZ Company? And didn’t you have an endorsement from the state business association that went really bad?”
As the new kid and sales person, you might imagine what was going through my mind at that moment. Do I hang up? Do I roll over? Remember now, I have just completed a 60-day training program that has included motivational tapes and readings as well as the normal corporate orientation.
What I said was. “Would you believe we’ve changed?” After he was done laughing, he gave me an appointment and 3-years later, we closed the deal. I would not have gotten that deal if I had not had the courage to reply with a little humor and positive response.
So that’s one of the ways we develop courage. We gain enough training, knowledge and experience to know that we can surmount the fears and succeed. In this case I had enough training and faith in my company that I could reply the way I did. I think it is Tony Robbins who says that fear is your body’s way of letting you know you aren’t prepared. And, as we prepare we gain confidence and we can move forward. I have been selling in my industry now for 23 years. I have heard most of the objections and reasons why people don’t want to buy. I have also successfully learned how to overcome most of those objections.
So here is my formula for developing courage:
1. Identify your fear
2. Know your why
3. Determine what actions will get you to your why
4. Take and measure the steps
1. Identify your fear. Let’s say it is cold calling. I don’t know any salesperson that likes cold calling. What is it about cold calling that you are afraid of? Is it hearing no? Is it that if they say no they will never say yes? Are you afraid you might look or sound stupid? These are all real concerns and I can tell you they are real fears. I can speak from experience that I have been told “no hell no”. I have looked and sounded stupid. And I survived.
2. Know your why? I was in a Network marketing company years ago that always said, “Know your “WHY” so you can get through the tough stuff.” We are all motivated by different things. I just finished watching the HBO mini-series, A Band of Brothers. It is the story about the formation and first years of the first paratroop organization in the US Armed Forces the 101st Airborne. As these men went through trial after trail and battle after battle what impressed me was that they were often terrified. That’s right they were scared. Their friends were dying and bullets and shells were flying all around them. And yet, they kept going. Why? In many cases, it was so they would not let down their comrades. They knew that if they were not on the line with their fellow men their friend would have one less resource in their defense. So in many cases they actually went AWOL from the infirmary to get back to the line. They knew why they were there.
3. Determine what actions you need to take to achieve your WHY. In my case, I was shooting for 25 appointments every other week. Because I wanted, my job and I wanted to be successful. In order to get that many appointments I needed to make about 400 calls every other week to develop prospects and to set appointments.
4. Take and measure the steps. Every day I had a tick sheet next to the phone. It listed dials, contacts and appointments. I could track my progress daily. And on Wednesday if it looked like I wasn’t going to get my appointment quota, I could stay late and make extra dials. If I was on track, I could head for the Dojang early.
These simple steps (Not necessarily easy) have made all the difference in my career as a sales professional. Today in all of the organizations I have worked with I have been known as the guy to go to when developing a new market; Why, because I have developed the courage to cold call. I am now working on the courage to present a higher level in the organization.