The pull of habit and an unwillingness to change will prevent you from improving your results in sales. Even worse, as the world moves forward, clinging to your old ways causes you to get left behind. To become the person who exists beyond your current self, you must kill your darlings.
Kill your darlings is advice for writers to get rid of a character, a storyline, or a sentence that they are attached to. Typically, it refers to something that doesn’t serve the story or its readers. By killing your darlings, you create a space for something better. For our purposes here, we will look at what you routinely do that prevents you from leveling up.
When You Have Always Done It This Way
You were taught how to sell many years ago, and since then you have never strayed from your training. But now, the world is no longer what it was when you were taught to sell.
Between your habits and the experience of winning deals, you may not recognize that the way you sell isn’t working as well as it did in the past. To improve the way you sell, you must let go of what you are currently doing. Without killing your darlings, you will not improve your sales results.
When sales leaders believe in the legacy approach they relied on in the past, sales leaders often fail to transform. Those old strategies and techniques contributed to their success, so they have no interest in changing how their sales force sells.
BANT and Poor Sales Experiences
If one is concerned about salespeople wasting time, they should be pleased that their salespeople are talking to decision-makers. That doesn’t happen when sales leaders require salespeople to qualify prospects using a clumsy, self-oriented approach that alienates their potential clients. You can kill this darling, as it kills new opportunities.
Imagine two salespeople calling on the same client. The client is exploring change and has made no other decision than granting two salespeople a first meeting. The first salesperson asks about the client’s budget, then challenges the client to prove they can buy. After offending the client twice, the salesperson asks about their need and their timeline.
The second salesperson presents a brief on the intersection of their industry and the client’s industry. This helps the client understand some of the likely trends and forces that impact their results. After setting the context, the salesperson asks the client what’s going on in their business. This experience is certain to knock the first salesperson out of the contest.
More Is Better than Better
There is a certain breed of sales managers that believe that more is better than better. This leads sales leaders and sales managers to require their sales teams to create many more opportunities than they need to hit their quota. This type of sales leader believes that their sales teams will lose an enormous number of deals.
To execute this strategy, sales leaders require every first meeting to be logged in the CRM immediately after it happens. When the quarter ends, many of these “opportunities” have still not had a second meeting. You don’t get paid for what’s in your pipeline; you get paid for winning deals.
This darling of sales leaders creates a false sense of confidence, until it doesn’t. The laser focus on creating more opportunities isn’t better than a focus on winning new deals that generate net new revenue.
The cult of efficiency is real. This strange religion is marked by the belief that technology alone can improve sales results. The current set of metrics proves otherwise. It’s easy to buy a tool and difficult to build an expert and craftsperson. The longer sales leaders and sales managers look to technology to improve results, the longer they will go without the results they need.
If you could kill only one darling, I would recommend that you eliminate the belief that efficiency is the key to success. Doing more faster isn’t the same as winning more and larger opportunities. Being more effective is the best way to win more deals.
The Nature of Growth and Development
To evolve into the person you are meant to become requires you to kill your darlings. You can’t be the old you and the new you. You must give up the first to build the second.
It's hard to let go of who you are. Some people will criticize you for not remembering where you came from. A few will try to drag you back to your past. Some will try to prevent your growth, but the people that love you will encourage you to pursue your path.
The nature of growth is change. Whether you are pursuing personal or professional development, you need a clearing, a space for you to give up the past and build the future you.
The things that brought you to where you are today cannot get you to where you want to go. On your way here, you developed the habits that feed your darlings. Now, you will need to kill them to produce the better version of yourself, your team, your company, and your results.
Until You Kill Your Darlings
Until you kill your darlings, you will not become the person who comes next. Every 24 hours, you get a do over. You can start today with a fresh canvas and reimagine anything and everything.
When you want something to change, you must change. Just as important as doing something, is eliminating the things that keep you stuck in the past. Killing your darlings makes space for something new, but it is difficult.
This is the nature of change. When you stop doing something you have always done, it is evidence that you are changing. Doing something new doesn’t rise to the level of change unless you do it as consistently as what you removed.