- Producing long-term results requires doing the right thing consistently.
- Some results are not forthcoming on the first try, and some success is invisible at first.
- Keep doing the right thing, even when you can’t see the evidence that it’s working.
One challenge in sales and sales leadership is that much of the work you do today doesn’t immediately provide the result you desire. There is a disjunction between the cause and effect that can fool you into believing that what you’re doing isn’t working. The actions that you take might be working, compounding your results, but they may be invisible to you until you reach the tipping point where your outcomes become apparent.
Why You Might Believe Prospecting Sucks
There is a reason salespeople sometimes struggle to prospect consistently. You can do your research, identify the contacts you need to call, and block ninety minutes on your calendar to make your calls—only to be greeted by ninety minutes of voicemail messages, full voicemail boxes, and a few rejections thrown in for good measure. Because you acquire no new first meetings, it can feel like you accomplished nothing even though you’ve actually set yourself up for future success.
The people who heard your voicemail listened to your sixty-second commercial about the value you are offering to trade for their time. They have now heard your voice. Because your prospecting sequence requires that you send a follow-up email, those same contacts have also seen your name and they have your contact information. More still, they now know that you are pursuing them, something that is going to help you acquire a meeting in the future.
Contacts that refused your meeting by telling you to contact them later have also heard your voice for the first time and have received your “no ask” follow-up email. They are now on notice that you are pursuing their business, and even though it didn’t produce the outcome you wanted, you have invested one call in your relationship.
Prospecting isn’t supposed to produce the result you want on the first attempt. That’s why we use a prospecting sequence and nurture future relationships. It is always a “no” until it’s a “yes.” A contact’s willingness to meet with you is created by compounding the individual attempts you make over time. Prospecting, like many things in life, doesn’t provide the results you want without you continuously doing the right thing.
Compelling Clients to Change
There are prospective clients who meet with you because they are struggling with some result you can help them improve. You use your meetings to provide them with an understanding of the factors that are causing them to fail and lose money, but they haven’t yet committed to take any action to improve their results. You have shared with them an unassailable case for change, including every bit of information and insight they might need to believe you, and still they do nothing.
Whenever you share information with contacts and decision-makers, it often takes time for them to understand the information, to recognize their faulty assumptions, to understand exactly what it means to them, or to decide how they are supposed to change in light of what you shared with them. Even a lawyer gets a couple of days to make her case in front of the jury.
The fact that your contacts didn’t immediately jump at the chance to reimagine their business, start the difficult process of change, speak to their teams about how shamefully negligent they’ve been, and turn their business upside down—all after exactly one conversation with a stranger—should not come as a surprise to you. That first conversation might be dynamite, but it’s not designed to blow up your client’s company! It’s designed to start the process of change.
Even though it might feel like their lack of commitment to change means you didn’t achieve your goal of compelling change, you have still started a conversation that will eventually result in change—provided you continue to do the right thing.
Personal and Professional Development
Too few salespeople and sales leaders spend an appropriate amount of time on their personal and professional development. Mostly, they attend an occasional training with enormous gaps of time between events. Instead of doing a little bit of development work each week, executing some new strategy or tactic until they master it, they check the box titled “training” and go directly back to doing things the way they’ve always done them.
Training and development are different, as are their outcomes. One provides a skill; the other builds competency and growth. You can acquire the knowledge you need to do something new or improve your ability without acquiring the competency or the growth that follows. Much like our not-so-hypothetical clients above, your burnt-in habits can make you allergic to change.
Incremental gains in your ability to execute a value-creating sales conversation improves your ability to create and win new sales opportunities by better serving your prospective clients. These small improvements over time compound when you continue to improve your approach—not because you try something one time. The pattern of improving one competency, followed by another and another, begins an upward spiral of better results.
The Value of Compounding
Like bank interest, seemingly small, incremental gains tend to compound over time. This is only true when one “trusts the process,” which just means you keep doing the right thing: even when it doesn’t appear to be working, and even when you find yourself on a plateau with no progress in sight.
Taking an action once isn’t an effective strategy for creating long-term success. You build your results by taking the necessary action over time. Anything worth doing, I’m sure you’ve heard, is worth doing well. But anything worth doing well is also worth doing over and over, until it produces the result you want.
Do Good Work
- What do you do that doesn’t seem to provide an immediate result—even though you are doing the right thing?
- What do you have to commit to doing, even though it doesn’t produce the result you want as fast as you would like?
- What result have you created that required compounding results over time, and what disciplines did it require of you?
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