We often hear actors and entertainers talk about how they don’t want to “repeat” themselves and how they want to “grow” as an artist and explore new terrain. Some of these folks go on to greater things and some we never hear from again.
Is a salesperson any different? No. Aren’t we all trying to stay “fresh” and “grow”? Absolutely. But there’s also the flipside, especially when we’re talking about success: Keep doing what you’re doing. A successful salesperson certainly doesn’t want to abandon the style and personality that got him where he is today, that would be foolish. However, it might also be unwise to keep doing the same thing because people change, industries change, and economic climates change. You may be a knocking the ball out of the park today because you have everything down pat, but if you’re not learning about new markets and strategies and understanding the changes in your field then you might be out the door tomorrow.
So what do you do? Do you stick to what’s tried and true and hope the world doesn’t pass you by, or do you enter new terrain and risk the hard work that’s gotten you where you are?
You do both of course. We’re talking about “tweaking” your “act” not doing a complete overall. Successful people grow and improve on a daily basis, but it’s the successful and conscious person who can pinpoint exactly how, and why these changes took place. At the end of the day the salesperson has to be his own best critic. He has to know what worked and what didn’t. He has to play back the tape—the mental tape—from the day’s events and understand exactly what happened.
For example, maybe the salesperson’s rapport with his clients isn’t what if used to be. Maybe his jokes are old, or he talks too much. Is the client tuning out, is he distracted? If so, the salesperson needs to take note and make changes.
On the opposite end, it’s crucial for the salesperson to be patient (it’s difficult, I know) and stay the course when things aren’t going well. Don’t panic. Never take shortcuts. And don’t suddenly try something new that’s completely out of your comfort zone. Like what? Like doing exactly what your colleague is doing—talking like him, making the same jokes, sharing the same work habits. Be yourself. You are not your colleague. What works for him will not necessarily work for you. Sure, it’s fine to borrow his good work habits—remember, that’s tweaking your routine—but the less you focus on his game and focus on your own the better you’ll be.
A good exercise to do each day is spend a few minutes writing down what you learned. Sometimes the answer to this question—What Did I Learn Today?—won’t come right away, but it will, and the exercise will also help you reflect upon your workday.
Another exercise is to write down something new that you tried. Did it work? If not, don’t fret. Try something new tomorrow. One thing, not ten.