We’re often asked what salespeople can do to improve their results. Naturally, there’s no one answer that fits all, but there is one thing that we see that definitely has an effect not only on the way salespeople work but also the results they achieve in the short and long term.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘Insanity is repeating the same things over and over, but expecting different results’. Well, we see many people showing signs of insanity in the way they approach their work. They often accept average performance as the norm, rather than concentrating and focusing on what they can do to improve.
Repetition is the key to mastery in all fields and sales is no different. If we recognise that, we can employ one of the main strategies that will improve results.
Your brain has over 100 million cells called neurons. Each neuron can connect to over 15000 other neurons. That’s a lot of potential connections. If you have a singular thought, it creates a flash of electric impulse connecting various neurons. Repeat that thought, and it forms a pathway that becomes easier to repeat over time. This is an example of what neuroscience called ‘plasticity‘.
Plasticity enables the brain to create pathways that are easier to follow the more they are repeated. And this is the main point; with repetition and focus, a person can improve their abilities and they can improve their results. The key is to repeat the ideas.
An athlete will repeat key movements time and time again, allowing the brain to instinctively repeat those movements and ‘learn’ its way of behaving. And the way that this can be repeated until it becomes an unconscious reaction is through focus.
Focus gives you power. Focus is one thing that, if improved, can affect your results, as it contributes towards the plasticity that drives learning and development. The way you learn, remember and master new information has not changed as we have developed.
To become a master at sales, you need to pay attention and focus on what you are doing to improve your skills. That focus will help you to concentrate on what you need to do to affect the results you are getting now and how it will improve your long-term outcomes. It will also improve your brain’s plasticity and make it easier for you to change the way you work.
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A report this week detailed the fact that children at school are losing the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. They have shorter attention spans than they did even 10 or 15 years ago.
This is caused on many occasions by children spending time on games that require shorter focus and less effort than before they played them. The obvious result of this is that less time is spent on focusing on real issues, as the child’s brain flits from one thing to another, not spending enough time on ideas and techniques to understand the real meaning behind things.
It set me thinking about one of the main contributors to success in sales these days. And one of the main obstacles as well.
I find many salespeople lack the critical thinking skills to see the major issues their prospects are facing, not just on a day-to-day basis, but also for the futures of their businesses. This is manifested in a lack of focus.
Have you ever got up in the morning and asked yourself, “What am I going to do today?” or “I wonder what’s going to happen?”
This means you are at the beck and call of everything going on around you, reacting to whichever way the wind blows, and what urgent thing comes along at a certain time. Your day isn’t structured well enough and you lack clarity and planning. The result is your day is unproductive and unprofitable, because you aren’t focused on the things that really matter.
Focus gives you that added edge, that distinct vision that helps you achieve your goals for your day and for your life.
Focus helps you to:
* Be decisive and take necessary action
* Give you the motivation to go forward
* Develop the passion you need to make the day great
* Produce a day to remember rather than to forget
Focus is a pre-requisite to powerful performance, because it offers a structure to face the main obstacles that hold you back. And one of those obstacles is fear.
Fear can destroy focus. It can take control of everything you do in a day. It can drive your performance down because, basically, fear absorbs all your passion and drives your thoughts down the road to doom.
To fight fear, understand that it is just a thought mechanism, just as focus is. So face up to it. Respect it. Understand exactly what it is – a call for you to prepare and show assertiveness. Understand that the message fear gives you is that you need to do something different to get a different result.
Preparation is the first thing that will help. If you are fearful of that upcoming meeting, plan what you are going to say to beat the fear. Recognise that it is just a symptom of you painting a future picture that hasn’t happened yet. Realise that others have faced this exact same situation thousands of times and won through.
Fear can destroy your focus, so identify how the focus can overcome the fear. Focus gives you pin-point concentration so you can see the best way of handling things and then plan how you will meet the problem head on. Focus will bring up ideas that fear will destroy. So identify what you want from a situation and then stick on that road to achieve it.
Remember, what you focus on becomes your reality. If you keep dwelling on what might go wrong on your next call, you will attract that into your world. Let focus become your friend.
There’s no doubt that today’s world with its plethora of major and minor distractions can take your focus away, just like the children in the report mentioned earlier. By recognising that focus can bring better results, you will destroy the fear that could be the biggest obstacle to your success.
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As you know, proper preparation prevents poor performance.
You’ve done your homework before the call…you’ve checked your notes from previous meetings…you’ve gone through all the questions you might be asked and prepared quality answers…you’re prepared to share your background and why you are the right company for this prospect…you’ve got testimonials to back up your claims…all correct, yes?
Then you get to the meeting and it all goes wrong. Why?
Many times, it’s because you are not really present with the customer.
Yes, you might have the best solutions for the client, but you are so focused on your information and your presentation of the solution, that you fail to focus on the present moment, watching and listening for the subtle clues your client is sending you.
So, be focused on the emotions of the client. Watch their body language when you present. Notice their reactions when you ask specific questions.
Match and mirror their non-verbal reactions when you talk about your product. Listen for the specific comments they make when you present solutions.
If you are too focused on your products and services, you may miss the subtle messages that the client sends your way.
Preparation is vital, but remember to be present with the customer at the time it really matters…during the meeting.
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