My teammate at work is not a golfer but has been privy to dozens of client conversations about golf. She accurately muses that nearly every amateur golfer claims to be “not very good at golf.” Their answers are the same whether they are at a 7 handicap or a 27. In other words, they all agree they could “be better.”
Conversely, in unscientific polls conducted at Building Leaders, 71% of salespeople self-reported to be above average or excellent at their job. (Less than 5% claim to be below average performers.) The discrepancy in self-evaluation begs the question: Why are so many golfers seemingly willing to admit that their golf game could always improve, yet so many salespeople, many of them the same ones unsatisfied with their golf game, seemingly don’t view their sales game the same way. Shouldn’t the default be to always assert that we could all “be better?”
The most obvious reason for the differences in self-evaluation is that amateurs are not expected to be good. Therefore, it’s okay to admit you’re not great at golf as a means of deflecting expectations and pressure in the event someone actually sees you golfing. A more important reason is that, at the end of every golf round, a player can point to one or two correctable mistakes that would have improved their score, which is exactly the point of this article.
Shouldn’t sales performers also review each sales call and their recent performances to determine areas for improvement? Instead of lamenting the victimization they are feeling from fluctuating prices and surreal lead times, they should review their performance to see where they can improve. The real problem is that sales and profits are booming, so why take the time to reflect.
It is easy to become drunk on sales while we’re in the midst of a booming housing market with escalating prices and product scarcity. This surge in sales and profits is a byproduct, and dare I say an accident, of market conditions.
It won’t always be like this and now is a good time to practice the selling skills that matter regardless of market conditions.
The salespeople who succeed on purpose in the long run will leverage the current climate to outshine their competition. They help builders with scheduling assistance and suggestions on coping with price fluctuations in conversations with the builders’ customers. Right now, it’s easy to avoid the fundamentals of prospecting, managing expectations, and intentional sales growth, but this avoidance comes at a great long-term cost.
The moment prospecting becomes urgent, it’s already too late. Therefore, set the stage for a successful long-term future, prospect aggressively now. The best time to cull your customer list is when opportunities abound. Therefore, now is the time to replace difficult, unprofitable customers with better ones. Success is not about eventually getting products to the jobsite, but instead managing expectations to deliver as promised. Therefore, help your clients navigate the supply chain in these times and it will be easy in normal times.
Fear is not a particularly good motivating technique for leaders, but it might be a valuable, subtle trait for successful performers. Fear is that internal motivator that tells you not to fall behind by consistently finding ways to improve your performance. As ridiculous as it may sound, it may be okay to be “not very good” at sales and accept that a little fear or doubt might just be the thing that pushes you to constantly improve your performance.
If you don’t improve in a changing world, sooner or later the results will catch up. Being “not very good” is merely a statement that you could be better, and that’s a good thing! If, on the other hand, you’re standing still and not improving, you’re sure to get passed by. The constant pursuit to be better is the difference between having a job or building a career.
Rick Davis, president of Building Leaders, is a premier sales trainer in the building materials industry. His latest book, Sales Economics: The Science of Selling, is now available at buildingleaders.com. Rick can be reached at email@example.com