As a younger sales guy, and still as an older sales guy (sales development expert), I took many opportunities to listen to, meet, or read about what other success gurus had to say. I believe it was Larry Winget, (but it might have been Mark Victor Hansen), that said outcomes occur as a result of “The Law of Causes and Effect,” rather than “The Law of Accident.”
The Law of Accident:
I recently had an accident. I was out on my morning jog in New York City. Running up Park Avenue from 45th, I was just getting ready to cross 56th. It was a beautiful morning in the city. I was anticipating getting to Central Park, turning left, coming back down 5th Avenue, stopping in St. Patrick Cathedral (like I always do when I run in the city) and then heading back to my hotel, the Roosevelt.
The next thing I know I am lying on the road in the middle of 56th and Park. My knees are bleeding, my right hand has a significant chunk of skin missing just below my pinky knuckle, my shoulders hurt and I have a little blood on my face just below the right eye.
Contrary to what many people think outside of the City, there were people there to help me. They helped me get up, asked if I was alright, walked me back to the corner, took my billfold – only kidding – and double checked to see if there was anything I needed. I said I was okay.
I won’t go into all the details here about what happened between then and now, but let me get to the now. Today, I head into surgery. Apparently, I have torn the triceps in my left arm and I have a fractured metacarpal in my right hand on the pinky side. I’ve been wearing a brace on my right hand to deal with the fracture and today they will address the triceps with a surgical procedure that will put me in a splint for 8 weeks.
As I’ve tried to explain to people what happened, it’s very hard to explain torn triceps and broken hand as a result of jogging. I’ve had to come up with some very creative stories and have had to handle some good natured “verbal abuse” from my closest friends and associates. I understand – I deserve it. But, obviously running wasn’t the culprit; it was the impact with the street that caused my injuries. I tell everyone, “It was an ACCIDENT!”
Not true though. What really happened was Cause and Effect. In reality, I violated the first of 3 steps to busting the myth of “Lucky and Unlucky”.
1. Anticipate – Normally when I run in the city, I anticipate the different breaks in the road structure, the unevenness of the curbs and the hectic pace of the pedestrian traffic. That day, I stopped anticipating and started day-dreaming about the rest of the run and my return trip home. The cause of the fall had nothing to do with anything other than me not paying attention and not anticipating a bump, crack or hole in the street. In sales, you must also stay alert and anticipate potential problems. Sometimes a lost sale is simply due to not paying attention.
2. Prepare – Once you begin to anticipate what things can happen in your sales approach, you prepare. You must always be ready with a plan of action for dealing with the “bumps, cracks and other hazards.” I really should have had a 2a.
2a. Prepare how you have to perform. In other words, if you are getting ready to meet with a prospect that is aggressive then you better make sure that your role-play partner plays that part.
2b. Prepare various strategies based on the various situations you believe you have to anticipate.
3. Practice – Selling requires a unique set of skills. Many skills. We assess sales people for 4 primary selling skills: Hunter, Qualifier, Closer and Consultative Seller. Each one of these skills has contributing attributes that need to be honed through practice.
From a sales manager’s perspective, you cannot allow your people to claim “luck” when they are successful. If you do this, then you will allow them to be “unlucky” when they are not successful. They will blame the incumbent, a personal relationship, an unfair selection practice or the competition. They won’t say that they aren’t lucky, but they may tell you that they need some luck. You have to be strong enough to deal with this and tell them that luck isn’t going to do it. Anticipating challenges to opening or closing deals will help them change their outcomes. Being prepared for each and every opportunity is what will change their outcomes. And finally, practice, practice and more practice is what will bring them success.