Paul shares one idea that will keep you motivated and feeling accomplished.
Their top salesperson said, “I’m struggling right now. I just don’t know how to stay motivated during this tough time.”
View negativity and moments of despair as a brief stop on your route, not the destination.
A sense of accomplishment gives a sense of pride. Accomplishment motivates us to do more. However, accomplishment is sparse in tough times. Therefore, we need to find a way to accomplish something.
Shine your shoes, wash your car, or cut your grass. Just find a way to accomplish something.
“Setup your day for accomplishment, not achievement. Here are five accomplishments.”
“Give yourself the satisfaction of crossing that item off your list.”
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How do I stay motivated during tough and uncertain times?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to continue with our theme of how we sell during these tough and uncertain times. Last week, I was conducting a webinar with one of my clients. And to kick off the call, I had their sales team just go through and do a basic pulse check. I wanted to see how everyone was doing. For the most part, everyone was in good spirits. They’re pressing on; they’re moving forward; they’re doing what they can do. But the top achiever at this organization said, “You know, Paul, I’m struggling right now. I just don’t know how I can stay motivated during this tough time. How am I going to stay motivated when I can’t get anything done? I can’t accomplish anything. I can’t close a sale.” We started to have a conversation and everyone in the group was contributing and sharing their ideas, their thoughts. And on today’s show, we’re going to talk about that specific question. How do I stay motivated during these tough times?
Before we get into that question, though, a quick shout out to our sponsor, The Creative Impostor Studio. I know when I was first considering a podcast, I looked at everything that it entailed and it was all foreign to me. I mean, it was the first time I was going through all this and it seemed complex. Well, the nice part about working with Andrea and The Creative Impostor Studio, they really make it easy. So, if you’re interested, reach out to them. If you want to get a podcast going, now is the time to do it while you have the time.
Also, make sure you pick up your latest addition of Value-Added Selling. It’s available on Amazon. That’s the easiest place to get it. This book is your go-to guide for how to compete on value and not price. One thing’s for sure, as we face these uncertain times, you’re going to get more pricing pressure. Pick up a copy of the book. It’s going to help you through this.
With that being said, let’s get into our question. How do we stay motivated during this tough time? So I mentioned I was talking to a group of salespeople and we were discussing how everyone’s doing, doing a pulse check—just some basic stuff. This top achiever, the one guy who’s kind of a leader amongst the team said, “I just don’t feel motivated right now. How am I supposed to stay motivated when I can’t close sales; when I can’t ship orders; when I can’t do this?” It was obvious that this top achiever was facing some challenges. It caught me off guard because this individual is typically very driven, very positive, very upbeat. But it proves that they were having a tough day.
I think that’s also important to note that, as we go through these tough times, you’re going to face some negative moments. You’re going to get caught in moments of despair. The key is, we don’t want to stay there, right? It’s, naive to think that we’re not going to have negative thoughts and negative feelings throughout this tough time, but view those negative thoughts and those moments of despair as a location that you don’t want to go towards.
I’ll give you an example. I am born and raised in St. Louis. That’s where my family and I live. There are certain parts of St. Louis you don’t want to drive in. I will give you an example. East St. Louis—it’s just on the other side of the river. I remember we were going out to a place called Eckert’s Farm. You can go out there and pick apples with your kids; you can play with farm animals, all that kind of stuff. It’s really a great time. Now, on my way back from Eckert’s Farm, there are a couple of different ways you can go, and I decided to take a shortcut. That shortcut just happened to lead me through downtown East St. Louis. It’s a terrible part of town. Did I stop and ask for directions? No! Did I stop and just wait around? No! When you get to that spot, you keep moving on. And that’s the same with negative thoughts. When we have those negative feelings, we just have to move on.
So, back to what we were talking about. This salesperson is having trouble staying motivated. And after I asked him a few questions, I figured out why. The reason that he was struggling is because of lack of accomplishment. He said, “It just feels like I’m not accomplishing things at the end of the day. I’m not accomplishing anything. It feels like a wasted day.” I understand that as a salesperson. I’ve been in his shoes. We’ve all been in those shoes where we’re just frustrated because it feels like we don’t accomplish anything.
The next thing we did in this exercise, I said, “Okay, let’s step outside of sales here for a moment. Let’s think about just your personal lives.” (We had just five or six salespeople on the line, so it was a very small group.) I said, “Each one of you… I want you to tell me something you will do on the weekend, personally, that gives you a sense of accomplishment, that you actually completed something.”
I had each of them go around the room and, the first guy said, “One thing I did last week that just felt good. I shined in my shoes.” He said, “I got out all my dress shoes. I took them out to the garage to my work bench, and I polished all of my dress shoes.” And I said, “Why did you do that?” He said, “First of all, they looked a little old. I was bored. I didn’t really have much to do. But when I looked at my shoes, I reminded myself of what it was like a few months ago when I would go out and make sales calls. I loved to shine my shoes and make sure they looked good as I went out there.” He said, “I wanted it to shine and polish them up.” I said, “Perfect. How did you feel afterwards when you looked at your shoes?” He said, “You know what? It felt like I actually did something.” I said, “Perfect!”
The next person… I said, “What’s something you’ll do over the weekend or in the evenings that just gives you a sense of accomplishment?” This salesperson said, “I love washing my car. I just enjoy it.” He said, “I love parking it out on the driveway, getting out the soap, the rags, scrubbing the car; cleaning it up and making it look good.” I said, “Why do you do that?” He said, “I’ve always enjoyed having a clean car, especially when I go out and visit with my customers. I like to make sure the car looks clean.” He said, “It felt good to get back to that.” I said, “How did you feel after you cleaned the car?” He said, “I looked at my car and I was proud of myself.” He said, “As silly as that sounds, I felt a sense of pride just cleaning my car.”
The next one (this one was by far the most eye opening), that same salesperson who said he was frustrated, doesn’t feel like he’s accomplishing anything… I asked him, “What is it that you will do either in the evenings or on the weekends, just to get a sense of accomplishment?” He said, “I mow my yard.” He goes, “Before this pandemic, I’m lucky if I could mow the grass every week or every ten days. Right now, I am mowing my yard two to three times per week.” I said, “Really? Two to three times per week? Why do you do it?” And he said, “I want to make sure that my yard looks perfect. I feel like that’s something I can control.” I said, “Afterwards, when you’re looking at the lawn, and you’re looking at those perfect lines, how do you feel?” He said. “It feels great. I love looking at the yard, seeing how beautiful it looks; seeing how the front of my house looks as I look at the clean cut yard. It just feels like I accomplished something. That’s why I’m doing it two to three times a week, I guess. It just feels like I accomplished something.”
Let’s think about this for a moment. We’ve got three different salespeople, and all they’re talking about is how they can accomplish something. And they said afterwards, once they do that, they feel a little bit of pride; they feel like they completed something. I asked them, “Would you like to feel that way when it comes to the work that you’re doing now with sales, even in this tough time?” They said, “Yes, that’s what I want.”
It’s clear what’s going on here. The reason that we’re demotivated—that we’re frustrated—is because it doesn’t feel like we’re accomplishing anything. The suggestion I made to this group of salespeople… I said, “We need to begin our day by scheduling out activities, and plan our day for accomplishment, not necessarily achievement. Right now, it’s hard to hit your quota. Let’s not fool ourselves. It’s hard to make a sale. It’s hard to progress those sales forward because of the situation. I get it. It doesn’t mean we should stop. It does mean though, we should set up our day for accomplishment and not necessarily achievement.”
So here’s what I suggested. I gave them five ideas. I said, “Number one: In the morning, create a list of four or five things that you have to get done today. Once you complete those activities, physically cross them off the list. It’s not enough just to say, okay, I completed it. No. Give yourself the satisfaction of crossing it off the list. This should be a list of things that you can accomplish.”
Here are the suggestions I made to them. The first thing I said, “Before you begin your day—before you begin reaching out to customers and prospects—review and practice your sales presentation; your company’s value proposition; review the needs of the customers that you’re going to call today.” Review the needs of the prospects you’re going to reach out to. Once you have done that, once you have reviewed their needs, you’ve practiced and role-played your presentation, cross it off the list.”
“The second thing you can do… create a high-value target account plan. Whether good times or bad, you still need to have your list of ideal opportunities. If you don’t have a specific target account plan for your top opportunities, you’re missing an opportunity. That’s something that you can accomplish. Here’s what I would do. Take your three most viable opportunities (we call those high-value target opportunities), and build an account plan.” (If you’re not sure what an account plan entails, it’s basically understanding the customer’s situation, who the key players are, what their needs are, your selling strategy going in, some of the small wins that you will expect to achieve along the way to your eventual sales success. We have a complete guide in Value-Added Selling on target account planning.) “Build a target account plan. And again, this is something that you can accomplish. Once you accomplish that, cross it off the list.”
“Next thing, begin your outreach for the day.” (Given this client and their type of selling environment, it’s common for them to reach out to as many as ten prospects per day.) I said, “Get your list of ten prospects that you’re going to reach out to today. Whether that’s an email, a phone call, both, whatever it might be. Once you complete that activity, physically cross it off the list.”
“Next thing you want to do… reach out to your existing customers. These are your customers. You’re protecting them, supporting them through this tough time. Reach out to them, and when you reach out to them, check it off of the list. Physically put the pencil right through that item. Give yourself the satisfaction of crossing something off of the list. At the end of the day, when you have completed all of these tasks, you’re going to gain a deeper sense of accomplishment. Looking at your list of items that you had to take care of—that you had to attack, that you had to complete—and then crossing them out, that’s going to give you a sense of accomplishment.”
After I advised this sales team to just plan their day for accomplishment and then strike those things off the list once they complete them, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve received emails saying, “It just feels good. I feel better at the end of the day that I accomplished something. I might not have achieved my ultimate goal, but it feels like I’m moving closer towards it.”
That’s what we have to do during these tough and uncertain times. Remember, in sales, there are so many things that are out of our control. But we can control our input, our energy, our efforts. Certainly we can control our attitude and we should also be able to control our accomplishments.
Make it a big day!