Over the years I have observed something amazing about prospects. Outside of a selling context, they are fairly ordinary people. Some are warm and friendly, some are not. Some are interesting and exciting to be around, some are not. Yet in a selling context, these same people, our prospects, seem to us to be such imposing, powerful figures. We are afraid to upset them, we are often too accommodating in front of them, we want them to like us, we can be easily intimidated by them or afraid to disappoint. They seem, or at least we experience it that way, to have all the power.
What do our prospects do to transform themselves from ordinary people into such imposing figures? Absolutely nothing. We, as salespeople, have given them their power by surrendering ours.
How have we done this? By needing the business, by our fear of failure and fear of rejection, by having expectations and excitement on our sales call, by focusing on outcomes and futures, by failing to challenge and change our self-limiting beliefs and behaviors, and by being more concerned about being nice rather than being respected.
The consequences of this surrender, for each of us, can be measured in lost sales, lower income, damaged self-esteem and heightened uncertainty and self-doubt about our abilities and our future.
If we are to act as our best selves and in our best interest, we need to take back our power. How? First by accepting, to whatever degree it is deserved, that we have surrendered our power to our prospects; second by committing to end that surrender now; and third, by translating that commitment into action by developing the practices and perspectives that can liberate us from our self-imposed bondage.
As a start, here is one perspective that may help: Only the Plan Matters.
In these four words are embedded two messages. The first message in Only The Plan Matters is to judge ourselves by the only rational standard possible: Did we have a plan and did we work it? If we did, we are a success, for the only thing that can fail when we work our plan, is the plan, never us. We just make another plan. This perspective helps immunize us against the fear of failure and the fear of rejection because the measure of our success is no longer outside of ourselves, in the hands of our prospect’s approval or decisions, but within our control: our plan.
The second message in Only the Plan Matters is to always keep our focus outward on the plan, not inward on ourselves. It is very tempting when things are not going right to start doubting ourselves and wondering what is wrong with us. When this inner focus takes over, consistent and effective action becomes difficult to sustain. By keeping our focus outward only on the plan, when things go wrong, as they often will, we are in position to ask the right question: what is wrong with my plan? Not the self killer: what is wrong with me.
The ultimate battle in sales is not between us and our prospects, but between us and our selves, between our self-confidence and our self-doubt. I believe each of us is intended to win that battle. The first step towards that victory is taking back our power.
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