Do you know what makes you successful?
This seems really simple, but for most people it’s actually not well defined. All great performers are really clear about what makes them successful. But I find that in the workplace, this is rarely the case. We tend to learn well from mistakes, but don't often stop to think about our successes and how we got there.
Knowing what you do when you perform well is key to achieving and consistently replicating good results. Think about times when you’ve performed really well in the past or alternatively, look at others that consistently produce good results and see what they are doing. We call these our High Performance Behaviours, and they might be harder to identify than you think.
For a start, they have to be specific. Things like ‘Work hard’, ‘Be Focused, or ‘Stay Motivated’ are good intentions, but these are not High Performance Behaviours. In sales, think about things like ‘make 10 cold calls a day’, 'ask these three key questions every sales meeting’, or ‘set five new business appointments a week’.
As you can see, not only do they have to be specific, they have to be repetitive. At the very least, you need to be able to execute them once a week, and preferably 2-3 times a week. Why? Because this is how we create habits. And once we create habits, the need for motivation and self-control disappears.
So, one of the greatest things you can do is to work out your top three High Performance Behaviours.
Think you've got time? Think Again.
Here’s the one mistake that almost all salespeople make: they think they have time.
In most sales environments, the last ten weeks of every year are a living hell as people scramble to make budget. And afterwards, they always tell themselves the same thing: “next year I'm going to start earlier”. This happens because long-term goals are so far off in the future they fail to motivate us.
Now, as a good employee, what you probably do is chunk it down - maybe you set quarterly targets, or maybe even monthly. But let's face it - if you set yourself a monthly target, chances are the first two weeks of that month still have barely any urgency. You only tend to get enough performance pressure in the last ten days or so.
Try making daily goals of no longer than an hour in the future. Sounds strange, but we need to bring deadlines that close in order to gently increase the pressure to get things done. Try setting a short-term deadline to execute some of the High Performance Behaviours you created above:
- Four calls in the next hour
- Three proposals sent out in the next 90 minutes
- Make two new appointments before 10am
You can see how those High Performance Behaviours, and creating periods of high intensity and performance pressure work together to help us get more done.
Beyond Leader Boards - What if you're a manager?
Results on leaderboards are mixed. Most of the research tells us that Leader Boards motivate the top couple of people (trying to win), and the bottom couple of people (trying not to lose).
However, almost everyone is motivated by a sense of progress - this is part of our hardwiring.
Something as mundane as painting a wall can begin to be rewarding and more motivating as you get toward the finish. Physiologically, a sense of progress causes our brains to secrete dopamine, which is our feel good chemical.
Find something to measure and more importantly show people it is progressing. But whatever you choose to measure needs to be controllable. The best measurement isn't always outcomes or targets, but might be inputs or behaviours. These things become especially important in a tough sales environment.
Take some time to reflect and plan according to these three points, and your ability to perform consistently well - even in the toughest markets - will improve dramatically.