What doesnt kill us…

… makes us stronger, so the saying goes. And as a sales person, no saying could be more relevant! What doesnt kill us makes us into a better seller. And better able to be a success, generally speaking too.

I’ve often considered what single sales attribute, or even business atttribute has the most impact on the success or otherwise of someone setting out to make a name or more pertinently, money for themsleves. And I’ve heard many ideas on the topic from all over. Invariably persistence crops up as a key, as does motivation and even new fangled concepts like bouncebackability popularised in the sports world recently.

I guess they are all correct, to an extent. But for me, perspective has been all important and focus the key. I’ve lost count of how many ad campaigns and ultimately businesses I’ve seen fail due to a lack of focus. Al and Laura Ries put it best.

The Power of a Brand is Inversely Proportional to its Scope.

You can’t be all things to all people. You can’t make everyone like you. You do not, after all, have a target market that encompasses the entire population. And you need to stay on the plan. (Incidently, your advertising must have the same focus. Talk to one market, and ask them to do one thing, even if its to learn one thing.)

In my experience, all great business people (and I include Sales people in that description) share that one common attribute. They know what they need to do in order to win, and they have the discipline to do it, sometimes over and over, in order to win. In the case of failing businesses, and failing sales people, they either don’t know what to do, or lack the discipline to do what they need to do. And I guess that’s where my original point comes back into it. Perspective.

I’ve always considered myself very lucky to do my job. I swan around in a lovely shiny posh car all day talking to people! Trying to convince them that my ideas have value, and imparting some of the learning I’ve picked up along the way. Nowadays, I manage a radio station, so I get to go to work and have fun. Every day. I can pretty much do what I feel I need to do, as long as I am delivering on the organisations objectives. I get to hang out with some of the most talented and enthusiastic people in my industry. It doesnt get better than that?

My father was a steel worker. He was made redundant and was unemployed for five years in the recessions of the ’80’s. THAT was a tough job. Bringing up a family, on ‘dole’ money, and having the daily grind of not being able to find a job.

My Grandfather was a miner. All his life. And his body, and I think his mind, paid the price. A little personal confession here: When he was unwwell, towards the end of his life, it was his dearest wish, and the only thing that was able to cut through the confusion that dementia dealt him, that I DID NOT, under any circumstances, go down the pit.

I have no idea what he went through. And actually, there was no chance I would ever find myself down a mine. But the passion in his entreaties to me to avoid that life will always stay with me.

I sell advertising! I swan about, as I said, TALKING to people. Thats not a hard job.

My little boy is Autistic. He cannot communicate in the way other children can, and consequently, he has not, and possibly will not develop like other children do. The prospects for his future unman me everytime I consider them.

I run a radio station. Thats not pressure, thats fun!

Perspective is the delicate flavouring in this concotion, this perosnal recipe for success. And focus the main ingredient. I accept all the other ideas, like persistence, as enhancments and influences and even vital elements to this same brew. But focus and perspective have always been the touchstones for me.

More practically, what do you need to do? Hit your targets. It’s that simple. and sometimes that brutal. No sales person hitting targets lost a job, and no business hitting targets went bust.

You need a plan to hit that target. and you need the discipline to stay on plan. Perspective helps you with that discipline. (If I wasnt doing this, what would I be doing?)

Your plan can take any sort of shape, and you should ensure it is always the best plan. Regular inspection of your thoughts and processes is essential. But equally, sticking to the plan once agreed is the way to go.

There is no place for dashing around all over looking for solutions, when the plan you have is perfectly relevant and fit for purpose. It just needs sticking to. After all, whats the worst that can happen?

  1. Mike Bersin
    Mike Bersin says:

    A great reminder for me, thanks. My old boss always used to say “do what you fear most” which is usually the thing where failure is most possible because so is success. The best book on time management basically boils down to; “do the most important thing you have to do today FIRST”. It’s not as easy as it looks; I can always find a distraction when I want one.

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Nice post… I had a mentor that used to say “If you do not have a plan stay in the car”

    If you can train your salepeople to have an “outcome’ for every sales call’ then they are better prepared for objections and anything else that might come their way.

    • damiandowling
      damiandowling says:

      thank you! looks great My Mum, while not the ‘mining mums’ of the story there, certainly held us together back in those dark days… And my Dad and his fellows backed the miners in those strikes too, flying pickets and the works (the original, non music variety)
      I still have my view of the the political world, and the Tories particularly, coloured by those long distant events
      felling old now @mrsmoti – well. at least middle aged, as you have pointed out before!

  3. Barbara Chidgey
    Barbara Chidgey says:

    Much food for thought – again. I like that notion of perspective and focus – it seems to sum up what really matters. Made me wonder too about the outgoing “grant culture” in Wales. Has the grant culture encouraged businesses and organisations to shift their perspective to focus on fulfilling the objectives of the grant-maker and in so doing how many have lost sight of their own objectives and shifted their own focus? I really don’t know the answer – but I think it’s an interesting area to consider. If there’s no possibility of a grant does that help the organisation really focus on what they need to do to fulfil successfully their own objectives …….

    • damiandowling
      damiandowling says:

      Very interesting point! if we characterise any ‘deviation’ from the plan as a negative for us as individuals and for organisations then this focus on the ‘grant’ culture is clearly potentially disastrous, if and when it seems, they come to an end
      A little like the farmer that becomes too reliant on a supermarket as his main customer?
      But your main point about serving the wrong customer, if i can put it like that, is much the same. Shifting focus to ticking the required boxes to the detriment of the ‘market focus’ of the business is not sustainable in the medium and long terms
      Thanks Barbara, valuable insight as ever!