I believe it was French author André Gide who wrote:
“There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.”
Coming from a Nobel Prize winner, I have to say that his statement leaves me somewhat underwhelmed. Sure, if I never tried to tie my shoes or blow my own nose I might think these were impossible tasks, but I’ve been on this rock for a few decades now and have a good feel for what I can do. Or do I?
Am I falling into a trap here?
By admitting I have carnal knowledge of my own Force, am I limiting my potential accomplishments?
(I’m taking a moment to smirk, as I was just about to ridicule those who don’t aim high, making the irony a 12 on the Alanis Morissette scale.)
So let’s think about this – is there really any difference between blowing my nose and hitting my sales goal? I’ve done both, so I know each is possible. Maybe a more relevant question would be about something I’ve never tried, like can I bench press 500 pounds? Just to be sure, I will try it right now (ouch – no way.) So it is clearly not possible for me to bench press 500 pounds. Today.
What about next week, or next year? Yes, no, or maybe so?
In life, almost everything can be reduced to a math problem. Work done equals force times distance. Obviously, to lift 500 pounds as I’ve described, I’ll need to move the weight a couple of feet. But I’ll also need to apply considerable force, and I’ve already discovered that I’m not yet strong enough to generate that force. Like Captain Kirk said more than once on Star Trek, more power will be needed.
And what is the definition of power? Power = work done/time taken
After consulting my trusted personal trainer, I learned that in order to build enough muscle to create enough force to lift 500 pounds, I’ll have to spend three hours every day for two years lifting increasingly heavier weights. Only then will I be able to reach my goal. It will be very difficult, require unyielding discipline and personal sacrifice, but it’s not impossible. What about lifting 750 pounds? How about 1,000? It’s still a math problem, just with different inputs.
So what is possible? If you can turn it into an equation, everything is possible.
Let’s revisit the sales goal example. For 2016, my target is 50% higher than the previous year. How can I possibly increase my sales that much? Again, it’s a math problem.
If “work done” is my total sales, then distance is the number of business days in one year, and force is the sales per day needed to reach my new goal. Obviously, the number of business days can’t be changed, but sales per day is variable. How do I increase sales per day to reach my new goal?
You guessed it – more power.
In reviewing the math, the secret here is to squeeze more sales out of each business day, thus increasing power and the ability to generate the necessary force to hit my goal. There are about 240 business days every year, and I’ve got to make every minute count.
This is how I do it.
Decide What I Want – This is an essential component to anyone’s success. In this case, the goal is to hit my new sales target. Not try my best, not get close, not work hard and we’ll see – hit it.
Make a List – Every night after work, prepare a list for the next morning. Include everything you need to do, even if you don’t think you’ll get to all of it. There is nothing like the satisfaction of completing a task and crossing it off a list with a flourish.
It takes lots of small victories to win the war.
Don’t Waste Time – When I sit at my desk (home or office), I am ready to engage and work. I have my coffee, my phone is charged, laptop is running, non-essential material is put away, etc. If those little duties are not done they are not distractions – they are excuses.
Organize your desk, clear your mind, and focus.
Create Time – If the number of business days can’t be increased, the only mathematical way to pump up your sales is to be more productive. One way is to create new work time. If you need to walk to your car, take your phone along and make a call. Driving somewhere at lunch? Use the time in transit to firm up a couple of appointments. If you find yourself waiting in a lobby for a meeting, fire off a few emails. Standing in the kitchen waiting for ice? Ask your colleague that question you keep forgetting about – you’ll probably avoid the time-suck of a meeting later.
When you increase sales using the same amount of business days, you increase power, and so forth and so on.
Create Your Own Luck – I blogged about this a while back. According to research, people who are lucky share four traits:
An awareness of their environment
The ability to listen and trust their intuition
A generally positive life outlook
Resilience and the ability to learn from hard knocks
As I pointed out last April, luck can be learned. And in sales, an edge is sometimes all you need.
Be the Man (or the Woman) – I will apologize in advance for this paragraph, but it will be full of catchy phrases and buzzwords. Great salespeople are always on stage. Even if you’re not talking to anyone, someone might be deciding whether to come talk to you.
If you’re great, you’re confident.
If you don’t project confidence in yourself and in your products, what message are you sending into the universe? And for this last nugget, I turn to Mike Damone, last seen back in 1982 at Ridgemont High School. He said, and I quote, “Act like wherever you are, that’s the place to be.” People will drive out of their way to do business with knowledgeable, confident extroverts – they are everyone’s ice breakers, lemonade makers, and favorite neighbors.
It’s near the end of Q1 and I’ve successfully generated enough power to crank up my average sales per day to hit my target. I’m feeling pretty good, and with two weeks left in the quarter, I ain’t done yet.
So in addition to bitching and smoking, it turns out the French are also very profound.