The saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” is widely attributed to Albert Einstein.
Those of us in Sales and Sales Leadership have related to that quote at one point or another in our lives when we have been stuck or wanted things to be different. Most of us are creatures of habit and find it challenging to get a new perspective – even when we know we need to employ new strategies to improve sales. We can literally and figuratively “knock on a door” multiple times, only to later see there was an “open window” right in front of us. Change is hard and we don’t always know what to change in order to get the results we want.
It can be difficult to take risks because of the fear of failure. What if you try new ideas and they don’t improve sales? Many people find comfort within the “corporate box,” where they feel if they do the same thing they did yesterday, it will be safe. But business is changing quickly, and organizations want their people to keep up with the changes in the market and even get ahead of them. It is stressful because if you don’t keep up, or make the right changes, you could fail.
Remember Blockbuster Video? They focused on penalizing customers for late fees. Netflix took a different approach and based their model on subscription services. Netflix grew exponentially, and Blockbuster went out of business. Eastman Kodak (cameras/film) made attempts to go digital but didn’t have the right approach. Nokia lost their lead in the cellular market because they continued to focus on hardware instead of software and the user experience.
Unwillingness to try new strategies, consider new tactics, or take bold action as business changes will only result in mediocrity or failure. Salespeople and leaders will see their stars fade into corporate oblivion, as they are surpassed by those daring to be different and making the effort to change.
Most salespeople in a complex selling environment are experiencing sales cycles six months or longer—that means at least 50% of your annual sales targets should already be in your pipeline! The average win rate for most sales teams is hovering around 25% – which equates to a 75% loss rate! That means you need even more qualified opportunities in your pipeline right now since you won’t win them all.
Working harder and doing more of the same safe selling will only result in incremental improvement when you should be expecting exponential achievements. It isn’t an easy endeavor to undertake. As Spencer Johnson, M.D. noted in his bestseller, “Who Moved My Cheese?”
It would be all so easy if you had a map to the maze.
If the same old routines worked.
If they’d just stop moving “The Cheese.”
But things keep changing.
If you want to improve sales and find success, this is the time to make the decision and commit to being different rather than hoping to be incrementally better. Decide right now to be bold… not next week, not next month, not next quarter. You must make the decision to change. Dare to be different and commit to new behaviors and expectations; ultimately, you will have better results. Finish strong and make this your best sales year yet!
Personal Challenge: Take a moment to reflect and consider just how bold you are by writing down your answers to the following questions:
- What are the bold goals you would like to accomplish in the remainder of this year?
- What is currently going well? List everything that helps you drive toward your goals.
- Identify up to three strengths that, if better leveraged, could benefit you and improve your performance. What can you do to make that a reality?
- What is holding you back in accomplishing your goals? List the things that are limiting or slowing you down and what you are going to do to minimize them.
- Circle the three items that are the biggest contributors to holding back performance and create an action plan to improve or eliminate them. What needs to change?
- Who can you enlist to help you to accomplish your goals? What resources would you need to make it happen?
- What processes or activities need to be automated, revamped, or eliminated to make you more efficient but still meet the needs of the organization? Who would have to agree to make that change? Be specific.
- What risks or fears are holding you back? What can you do to minimize the risk but still push forward with change, even incrementally? What would give you more confidence in moving ahead?