I’ve always contended that there are few business professions as challenging as a career in sales, which is why it’s not at all surprising that more than 45 percent of salespeople don’t meet their annual quota, according to a CSO Insights performance management study.
The reasons are varied and often involve insufficient sales skills or training, challenges engaging in authentic communication that builds trust, and/or sales discipline. In the sales world, discipline is often defined as setting an activity schedule and sticking to it.
I want to challenge you to think about discipline in a new way, though. The ultimate form of discipline is being able to successfully make and keep commitments that you make to yourself. In the end, it’s really about integrity, and it was a passage in a book by Stephen M. R. Covey that helped me see the connection.
The book is called “The Speed of Trust,” which is about how to build trust in any organization. Covey aptly contends that there is no way to consistently keep commitments to others if you haven’t first learned how to make and keep commitments to yourself. Covey says, “Every time we make and keep a commitment to ourselves – large or small – we increase our self-confidence. We build our reserves. We enlarge our capacity to make and keep greater commitments, both to ourselves and to others.”
The secret is in treating the commitments you make to yourself with as much respect as you do the commitments you make to others. Don’t think of your self-commitments as necessarily grandiose in importance. They can be as simple as eliminating soda from your diet or reading for at least 15 minutes each night. No matter the scale, your integrity is on the line when you don’t take those commitments seriously, because you no longer trust that you’ll keep your commitments anywhere in your life. This self-doubt creates a defeatist mentality and that is death to a salesperson.
If you’re at the crossroads and struggling to keep your own commitments, let Covey’s words guide your path forward. “You can change your behavior to match your commitment, or you can lower your values to match your behavior. One choice will strengthen your integrity; the other will diminish it and erode your confidence in your ability to make and keep commitments in the future. In addition, that shift in direction with regard to values – even if it’s slight – will create a change in trajectory that will create a far more significant difference in destination down the road.”
I encourage you to make and keep commitments to yourself as a way to build self-trust, which will ultimately make you more confident and trustworthy to others – your family, your colleagues and even prospects.
Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.