November 22, 2017 by

I was doing some in-house training for a client recently where we were discussing the elements of success and how can we achieve greatness in sales. This is often a hard conversation if we are honest with ourselves. Success requires us to go above and beyond what has always been comfortable, familiar, and safe. Most salespeople want nothing to do with taking risks, experiencing failure, and learning from it. Instead, they go to work, do what they are comfortable doing, think very little outside the normal routine, and then go home only to repeat it the next day, week, and year. I believe every one of us was created for much more.

Often in sales, we limit ourselves. Intellectually, we know what must be done, what calls should be made, what networking events to attend, and which doors to knock on; but emotionally, these behaviors are not supported due to fear, the possibilities of rejection, and failure. The result is self-sabotage. Unfortunately, almost all of the revenue-generating behaviors in the sales role, like prospecting, asking for referrals, scheduling free talks, etc., are hindered by prevailing non-supportive attitudes regardless of how long one has been in sales. Success can be achieved if we flip this so that behavior happens independent of emotional fear or non-supportive attitudes.

To challenge my client, I asked them to identify an action or behavior that they knew intellectually would lead to new sales but, because of fear, had not been done. If I challenge my client to something like this, I have to do it, too. So, on a cold Saturday morning in December, I drove to a neighborhood where I believed business owners lived. For two hours, I went house to house knocking on doors looking for those that would listen to a 45-second commercial about Sandler Training. In two hours, I knocked on 45 doors, had 17 people listen to what I had to say, set one appointment, got one referral from a CEO of a large Omaha business, and had a lengthy conversation with a retired CEO of a $150 million manufacturing business who was willing to sit down with me to help with strategic planning.

It wasn’t without fear. In the days and moments leading up to this prospecting event, I felt ill at times and constantly thought to myself “this is stupid.” My emotions and attitude told me to stay at home and enjoy the weekend. Afterwards, however, I saw the benefit of my behavior and my attitude soared. Is there any doubt that I would win business if I kept up this behavior every weekend?

It is because of this experiment that I am certain every sales professional has the opportunity to achieve greatness.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.