Are You Chopping With a Dull Axe?

Posted by Joel pate in Uncategorized. Tagged:

Many experienced professional salespeople don’t see the need for continuous improvement. They often think, “I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, so I must be really good at this.” The number of years of experience, however, is not a measure of excellence — any honest golfer knows that.
Such thinking can keep you from achieving a higher level of success. It is like the lumber jack who works non-stop and never takes the time to sharpen his axe. Just because you’ve been doing something for years doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t need to improve. We all do.
People often get satisfied at just being good at what they do. A sales person might stop doing all the “little” things that made them great, such as using a pre-call checklist, asking for referrals and testimonials, updating their website, conducting timely follow-up, and sending thank-you notes. But these little things make the difference between good and great.
In fact, a huge chasm exists between a merely good performance and a really great one. Realize, however, that this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to work harder. Rather, you need the discipline to execute the little things in an extraordinary way — every single day.
Consider rock group U2 front man Bono’s example of taking something good and making it great. “An early version of our first single, Vertigo, was massaged, hammered, tweaked, lubed, sailed through two mixes, and got U2′s unanimous stamp of ‘very good.’ Very good is the enemy of great. You think great is right next door. It’s not. It’s in another country,” Bono told USA Today.
Instead of releasing the song at “very good,” the band returned to the studio and took it apart. They rearranged Vertigo with new melodies and new arrangement and new rhythms. They soon discovered untapped reserves of ideas and fortitude, and the song went on to become a number one hit, winning the Grammy for song of the year, off the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb that won the Grammy, too.
Has your performance recently been “good” or “great”? Have you been on cruise control in your profession? When was the last time you went back into your “studio” and reevaluated what you do and how you are doing it, asking all the while: “What can I do better?”
When was the last time you asked a client what you could do to improve his or her experience with you? Years? Months? Maybe even never?
Some companies have an exhaustive process to make sure they deliver maximum value to their customers. If you want to continuously improve your sales skills, your clients and prospects will actually have the most valuable insight into how you can become better. So make it a priority to regularly ask them for their suggestions on how to improve and add more value to what you offer them. Sales managers, likewise, should ask their sale people, “You have worked with me now for three months/three years. What can I do to be a better sales manager? How can I support you more effectively?”
The same question is just as powerful with your family. When was the last time you asked your kids, “What can I do to be a better mommy or daddy?” How about asking your spouse? I guarantee they will have some feedback for you. It takes courage to ask and then really listen to the answers. Your tendency will be to defend yourself, of course. But instead, shut up, and say “thank you.”
What you often find is that there will be little things they want you to do more often that you did not know where so important to them. Recently, our middle son Davis came back with this answer: “Have more fun. I have been so focused on driving hard as the school year finishes that I need to lighten up!”
Although asking “What can I do better?” is an excellent way to continuously improve your performance, asking is really only the first step. The real key is to carefully listen when someone offers a suggestion. When a client starts talking, don’t try to defend yourself or justify your actions, just listen to what he or she has to say. Take your client’s/wife’s/husband’s/daughter’s/son’s suggestions seriously, and follow up with them later to ensure you are making progress.
So, dedicate yourself from this point on to sharpening your saw, looking for every way possible to take your performance from merely “good” to truly “great.”

By Chip Eichelberger, www.soldps.com

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