We made it! 2017 is in the books. Some of us are celebrating great victories and much success; some are licking our wounds thankful to have survived. But all of us, regardless of circumstances, are here on the doorstep of another new year. No, there is nothing magical about turning a calendar page, but I think we all would agree that New Year’s presents a wonderful opportunity for a fresh start and new beginnings. So let’s not waste this opportunity!
I’ve been using this past week to regroup, to plan, prepare, set goals, take stock, and to read. It has been incredibly energizing and empowering. Recently, my friend Joe Tarulli pointed me to Jon Gordon and his book, The Energy Bus. Joe’s suggestion was spot-on because Gordon’s tweets, tips, articles, his book – and his expertise on both energy and positivity – have dovetailed perfectly into some of my personal themes and commitments I am making for 2018.
Because 2017 was such a crazy year for me, I have been thinking a lot about choices. Choices and necessary changes. And the more I ponder and process and unpack my own thoughts and feelings, the more convinced I become that we have more freedom to choose than we realize. Let me say that again, because it is the message I so badly want to drive home in this year-end/new-year post: For the vast majority of us reading this article, we have more power, more authority, more know-how, and more freedom to choose our attitude, our behavior, how we spend/invest/waste our time, and how we approach selling or leading salespeople than we act like we do.
We are not trains running on a track. We are not victims or prisoners. We are humans living in free countries with free agency (noun-
Here are a few questions/challenges to help sellers and sales leaders consider the bevy of choices before them heading into 2018:
- Will you choose to take control of your calendar and block time for your highest-value/highest-payoff activities, or will you allow others to dictate how you spend your time? Salespeople will you choose to spend more time selling? Sales managers, will you choose to carve out time for 1:1 accountability meetings, fieldwork, coaching, and prepping and facilitating great sales team meetings?
- Will you choose to start your day by feeding your heart, your soul, and your mind, or will you check email first thing so that others are now dictating your mood and those all-so-important early morning thoughts? (for great tips on creating an “early morning routine” check out Michael Hyatt’s podcast on the topic)
- Will you choose to refine your strategic target account list and commit to proactively pursuing growable existing customers and ideal profile prospects, or will you allow yourself to operate as a glorified customer service agent or account maintainer living in reactive mode simply responding to opportunities that come your way? Managers, will you ensure that your people are laser-focused on the right targets and free up their time and hold them accountable to attack that list?
- Will you choose to surround yourself with positive people and intentionally hang out with the winners on the sales team, or will you gravitate to the whiners? Will you consider letting others that you trust and have your best interest at heart speak into your life, even if it’s hard truth or tough love, or will you be uncoachable?
- Will you choose to stop pointing the finger of blame at others or circumstances and take responsibility for your actions and results, or will you play the victim card and throw a pity party for yourself?
- Will you choose to invest the time and energy to draft a legitimate plan for yourself and commit to executing against that plan, or will you allow yourself to drift aimlessly under the guise of faux-flexibility?
- Will you choose to exercise the willpower to conquer (or get help for) your addictions and distractions (whether they be social media, politics, food, unhealthy relationships, or other dependencies) that steal your your time, your heart, your energy, and your productivity, or will you allow yourself to continue down a destructive path that damages your life, health, important relationships, and work results?
- Will you choose to invest in your own professional and personal growth – taking responsibility for developing your most precious asset (yourself), or will you just tread water, stagnate, and drift along with the current? And would you please at least consider the possibility that you spend too much time reading nonsense and comments on social channels, including LinkedIn, pretending that you are working, researching, or learning and instead replace that time with either real sales work or real personal development activity?
- If you are a salesperson who is supposed to get fed leads from your company’s inbound marketing engine or sales/business development reps, will you choose to take responsibility for creating your own sales opportunities and maintaining the health of your personal pipeline, or will you be content to sit on your butt and wait for leads to be served up on a silver platter?
- Will you choose to make the effort to sharpen your sales tools, particularly your messaging (“sales story”), your telephone calls, face-to-face discovery/consultative sales calls, and your demos/presentations, or will you keep doing the same ole same ole hoping that results will improve?
- Will you choose to refocus on the very simple basics of sales or sales management that are proven to improve performance when mastered, or will you keep looking for the magic bullet in search of the perfect sales enablement/account-based-selling/inbound-marketing/used-to-be-called-social-selling-but-that-died-so-now-it’s-called-digital-sales tool/toy/trick that promises to cure all that ails your sales?
- Will you choose to be positive and grateful? I love how Jon Gordon puts this. He says that we need to focus on the fact that we “get to” instead of “have to.” We “get to” work. We “get the opportunity to” fight hard battles. We “get to” sell against tough competitors and lower prices. We “get to…” What a great way to reframe our mindset and adopt an attitude of gratitude!
- What do you need to do less of in 2018? Which non-productive, silly, time-consuming, energy-robbing tasks or relationships will you choose to delegate or jettison? And which wonderful, life-giving, energy-creating, results-producing, positive relationships and activities will you choose to expand to fill more of your calendar to have more impact on you as a living, breathing, emoting, and time-constrained human being?
Friends, I have written this post as much for myself as for those who read it. I’m convinced we all have more choices and more control than we act like we do. Heading into 2018, I am committed to making smarter, better choices that will move me toward my stated goals and help create the business and life I envision and desire. My hope is that by sharing these thoughts and the challenge questions above, you’ll choose to join me on this journey. Here’s to a fantastic year ahead, all the energy and positivity you can muster, tons of success, and of course, many many New Sales!