Leap Anyway

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“..Every fear hides a wish”–David Mamet

Most people are aware of the risk in any situation. There are lucrative careers built around identifying and assessing risks, inherent or otherwise. The experts in the field tout successes at helping companies and individuals answer the question, “should we?”, then navigating them toward the calculated risk that has the least potential for loss. Few people are paid to move despite the risk.

When processing risk, I consciously follow the trail of the super producer. In the sales world there are often discussions about finding “A” players and the idea that most teams are built with one (or two) A’s and a supporting cast of B’s and C’s. Hiring managers are often resigned to the idea that super producers are industry minorities, and they are right. The typical super producer is risk aware but not risk-averse, highly focused on the positive outcome while mentally (even unintentionally) minimizing risk–a human anomaly that most people are not born with but could train themselves toward.

When I was invited to begin a corporate sales career, I was not afraid of selling, I was afraid of the repercussions of not selling but my dream of financial freedom, success, and building my brand as a trainer, speaker, and coach outweighed the natural aversion that most people experience when you discuss sales as a career. I had wishes that far outweighed any fear. That is where I stand today, as my career evolves and even as my personal and professional passions change with age and experience, I look for the wish behind every fear and I seek the “Do” behind every “Doubt”.

If you aren’t a natural super producer, how do you focus on the wish beyond the fear? (You can change wish to goal, dream, desire, or expectation), here are a few suggestions:

1) UNDERSTAND your fears. Most people have fears, go ahead and list them. “What are you afraid of?” I’ve done this exercise during coaching sessions and noted that most people can’t come up with as many as you would think. It often boils down to one major thing: failure. It’s okay to acknowledge that you have them and what they are, it’s not okay to make decisions according to them.

2) Immediately ADDRESS your feeling of loss and intentionally REPOSITION your thoughts on the representation of gain. Fear feeds off the potential of losing. Loss rarely evokes vivid images, it instead creates emotions that cloud the mind while gain will drive the imagination to reflect a kaleidoscope of outcomes: a new car, a new home, kids attending college happily, the vacation you’ve been wanting to take, or perhaps a career move. Spare yourself the emotional upheaval, visualize yourself winning!

3) Dream BIG! I know, I know, it’s cliché, most people will tell you to dream big because it seems like the right thing to do. Dream big because it’s the only way to combat risk aversion and accomplish big things. Big dreams require monumental effort that will often drive the willingness to take big risks. The super producer doesn’t think about hitting their monthly quota, they think about the reward of blowing it out of the water and they put in the effort to do it. How can we push ourselves to dream big? I created the “Least. Greater. Greatest.” planner. I list a wish and then visualize and write the lessor, the greater and the greatest outcomes, for example:

The wish: Travel.

Least: A weekend shopping trip to New York City with boutique style accommodations in Brooklyn or a weeklong Seattle foodie tour while booked into a Puget Sound Airbnb.

Greater: Two weeks of writing, meditation, relaxation and fun with the locals on the Eastern Caribbean island of Bequia.

Greatest: A trip to Singapore with my best girlfriends, luxury accommodations, private dinner by world renown chefs, and Universal Studios—yes, they have Universal Studios in Singapore!

Not only is this an emotionally engaging way to build your vision, the positive visualization will naturally replace fear driven inhibition.

4) Don’t HESITATE, DO SomethingHesitation (n) the action of pausing or hesitating before saying or doing something. There you have it, hesitation is the action that drives inaction. Have you ever envisioned winning the award for being “most inactive” or “least likely to move forward”? I hope not because there is no reward for being mired down by risk aversion.

How do we leap over the hurdle of hesitation? Go to your fear list, pick one, and detail what you would have accomplished if that fear didn’t exist, honesty is an important part of the process. For instance, I would have moved into a tiny house in Seattle and focused on becoming a published author for a year if I wasn’t fearful of leaving the predictable stability of corporate life.  As you can see, I’m specific. List what you would have done and the contributing fear (the hesitation point). Use visual elements if possible. When you are ready to behave like a super producer, you won’t want to run or hide from the most important truth–the truth you tell yourself.  After you’ve gone through this process, you will be ready to do the work. Remember, we said big dreams require a MASSIVE effort.

5) When you begin to feel fear think of the super producers that you know and REMIND YOURSELF, “if they can, surely I can too”. A healthy ego can override the fear of risk. Most professionals reject the idea that someone else is better than they are–even when the numbers prove it. In this case, the ball is in your court, advantage: confidence.

The work of a super producer is never done but the reward is never ending! Here’s to the results of pursuing the wishes behind your fears.

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I’d Rather Be The Lioness (The Lion V. Gazelle Redux)

The anecdote of the Lion and Gazelle has been published (http://bit.ly/1hV6plmnd) enough throughout my career that as I transitioned so has my perspective of its value. I began to feel that it would be ill applied if I merged it, as is, into my sales life. If you currently work in the maze of cubicles and are seeking to advance as a sales professional, there are several areas that I recommend using the technique of the Lioness rather than the Lion:

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1) Prospecting: The Lioness is the primary hunter of each pride. She wakes early to identify prey, patrol the perimeter and ultimately provide a meal for all, including the lion that is rarely known to proactively hunt. Becoming a sales leader requires active hunting, recognizing that the opportunities to take part in spoils that you have not won are limited. There is the belief that working harder not smarter but breaking a sweat is a necessity, particularly in the beginning.

2) Territory/Competitor Awareness: A lion’s mane is used to dissuade potential predators or enemies from engaging by adding size to his appearance, I relate it to the established salesperson that has come to rely on the power of inbound calls and relationships to generate revenue, maintain the reputation of his sales prowess, and intimidate his competitors (internally and externally).  A professional life with little challenge can lead to a sense of complacency and an imaginary comfort zone.  Conversely, the lioness is often tested by competitors.  While she is a part of the same family as the King of The Jungle, she is not immediately given the grace of perceived power and therefore must always be alert to any potential threat to her territory. Without a mane as an initial repellant she must command respect based on the work and effort that she puts in continuously.

3) Peer Relationships: A Lioness can seamlessly assimilate into a new pride while the lion is often thought of as “rogue” or threatening when he is forced to strike out alone. You can be the lioness with the proven and quantifiable skill set that is easily marketed to a new company when it’s necessary to move forward, if you’ve done the right things. A solid reputation based on skill and finesse combined with the art of ingratiation will compel your new pride to embrace you, push your development and increase your potential for competitive balance.

4) Practice Management: She is naturally territorial of her young and has learned to enlist others in the nurturing of her cubs only when it is necessary or they have reached an age that she is sure they will continue to thrive. Your prospects and clients are your cubs. If you behave like the lioness you will keep a close and protective eye on them until they have reached a level of maturity (revenue, consistency, rapport) that requires less hand feeding and occasional steering.  When you have to turn them over or receive assistance with them it will only be from a colleague or manager that is as fiercely protective of their own business and who understands the need to maintain your den. A lioness knows that leaving her young (clients/prospects) too soon could lead to their demise. Behave like the lion–killing young (potential or growing business) or forcing relationships within the pride (colleagues or even the industry)–and you could find yourself in the crosshairs.

While there is strategic value to being the visible and beautifully coiffed Lion there is both tactical and strategic advantage to being the lioness that has perfected the craft of eating well and feeding others.  The nature of a workplace environment doesn’t tolerate the behaviors of lions well.  Work ethic, commitment, and strength are more likely to propel you than the simple demonstration of dominance, perhaps a testament to the longevity of the lioness in the wild in comparison to her male counterpart.

 

As a consultative sales partner and brand developer for businesses and individuals, Stephanie Bryant is noted for 100 closed referrals in 30 days, demonstrated talent for taking companies beyond lead generation to overall success through cold prospecting, identification and coaching of trainable sales talent and strategic business development. @madsaleswoman

Stopping a Myth In It’s Tracks Pt. 1

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I remember working on a project for my son’s elementary school classroom with the thoughts of both assisting the teacher and being involved a bit more. As a working mother of two with a demanding career and entrepreneurial pursuits, I knew that I was taking on more than I could handle without muddling the project so I decided to engage other mothers for their assistance. Without a moment’s hesitation I pulled out the handy school manual (private school perk) with all of the children in each class, their parents, and contact information including email addresses, office and home numbers. After a long day of work, I sat down and did something that any successful sales executive would do, I began dialing.

One by one, I combed through the names of twenty-eight parents with the goal of reaching them or leaving a message before eight p.m. when it would be too invasive to call a home with school age kids. I also knew that many of the mothers were stay at home moms and if I left an introductory message that was succinct and well-crafted they would call me back. At the very least, I could make a call during the day time while their children were in school and get the task of roping in some volunteers completed. Since I was one of the few working moms in the classroom I wasn’t as well acquainted with the parents as they may have been with my son so I knew that it would require something well within my skill set: baseline cold calling techniques.

I had the names of the parents, their children’s names and enough due diligence to find a warm angle for an otherwise cold call in which I would be asking people to donate time and perhaps money so I began dialing. Within my goal time frame, I had spoken to about 40% of my list and left messages for the remaining 60%. Most parents were happy to speak with me or schedule a better time if I was running into their dinner hour, which I referenced as I introduced myself. A few parents were clear that they routinely donated time and money and were opting out this go round, so I thanked them and built enough rapport to ensure that we could catch up at the next event and certainly that any other calls would be welcome in the future.

Within two days of activating my plan, I had spoken to my entire list of families, made new acquaintances, and scored a pair of tickets to the Florida State vs. Miami (that’s another story). I did all of that and continue to experience career success today because I refuse to believe the annually perpetuated myth that “The cold call is dead”.

If you are a new salesperson, entrepreneur focused on growing your business or a salesperson that has experienced success but is now at a plateau, I would encourage you to reach out to me or a seasoned professional in your network, before you succumb to the irrational fear of or disbelief in the cold call. In the meantime, I will be writing several posts within this series and hope that you visit again as I stop the myth in its tracks by dissecting articles and methodologies.

Happy Holidays…Don’t Screw This Up

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I continue to contribute to Femme and Fortune Magazine. While most of you are prepping for the holiday party season with anticipation and some a mix of dread, here’s a few pointers to managing your office party experience: http://femmeandfortune.com/when-is-a-party-not-a-party/.

Please comment and add your own tips for surviving the party season with your career in tact!

Check Out My Contributions to Femme & Fortune

If you are looking for more mad advice and Gotivation, please check out my recent contribution to Femme & Fortune magazine:  One Degree, Two Lattes Later:  http://femmeandfortune.com/one-degree-two-lattes-later/

My goal is to get the message of personal motivation and career success out to a variety of demographics that are working to develop their professional profiles.  Femme and Fortune is labeled as the “Kick Ass Magazine for the Modern Woman”.  If you’re not a woman but still like good advice, don’t be afraid to click the link above!  My latest article here at the Mad Saleswoman will be posted today (find out what’s been going on as I celebrate the First Anniversary of leaving my last job!)