Salespeople: Stop Adhering to This Dangerous Societal Norm ASAP

Most people are familiar with the “all-in” concept as a poker term. It’s what takes place when a player puts all of his chips at risk and either gets knocked out or doubles up. Though I’m not talking about money or chips here, I’m referring to a much more important bet -- your efforts, creativity, energy, ideas, and persistence.

Most of society discourages the all-in mentality because we are taught to play it safe and not to put everything at risk. We are encouraged to conserve and protect ourselves from losses rather than to go for the big payoff. But this mindset is based on the myth that your energy, creativity, and efforts are material things with limited quantities that cannot be replaced. There are certain things in life that have limits, but you don’t unless you impose limits on yourself.

We have all heard the fable of the tortoise and the hare. The implied lesson is that the tortoise wins because he plods along and takes his time, whereas the hare rushes, becomes tired, and misses his opportunity to win. We’re supposed to derive the meaning that we should be tortoises -- individuals who approach our goals steadily and slowly. But if the hare retained his speed and gained the steadfastness of the tortoise, it would smoke the tortoise. My suggestion is to approach your goals like the tortoise and the hare -- by attacking them ruthlessly from the beginning and also staying with them throughout the course of the “race.”

Remember: There is no limit on how many times you can get up and continue! It is impossible for you to “use up” all of your energy -- or creativity. It is impossible for you to run out of ideas. You’ll never lose the ability to come up with new dreams, have more energy, think creatively, look at a situation or event differently, give someone another call, use another tactic, or act with persistence. And if the bank you are working with continues to refill with new supplies of energy, creativity, and persistence, then why not go all in on every hand?

Many sales professionals give themselves much more credit for trying to close the deal than they deserve and think they’re doing so much more than they actually are. In reality, most never even ask for the order once, much less the supposed five times that are necessary.

My company was recently hired to conduct a “mystery shop” campaign for an international company to identify where the breakdowns in the sales process were occurring. To the company’s amazement, 63% of the locations shopped never even presented the client with a proposal to purchase! This company was about to spend millions on a product training program when in reality, that was not the solution. The franchises and their sales teams feared failure and never even played a hand -- much less went all in.

Society has successfully taught most of us to play it safe rather than to go all in with every customer and every opportunity. This is perpetuated in the business world with things like closing ratios, which supposedly reflect the success rate of a salesperson. I’ll tell you what I do: I am willing to go for it with every customer, every time. I have the lowest closing ratio of everyone but the highest production! All in. I don’t care how many times I bust out, I will just reload my chips and play again!

This brings me to the topic of overcommitting, another “frowned-upon” and misunderstood issue in business today. How many times have you been told to “under commit and over deliver?” I have never heard anything so backward and ridiculous. Why not overcommit in your promise -- and then exceed by over delivering as well? I find that the greater the commitment I make to a client, the higher my level of delivery naturally becomes. It is as though I’m promising to both them and myself to reach new levels of what I’m able to do for them.

The same goes for every step of the sales process, whether it involves follow up, flyers, regular mail, emails, social media, phone calls, personal visits, events, meetings, or any other action you take. Overcommit your energy, resources, creativity, and persistence. Know that you are all in on every activity, every time you take action, every day you’re in business.

Now, you might worry -- as so many people do -- about not being able to deliver. And that is certainly a problem; however, you need problems. Anyone who doesn’t face new problems his or her whole life isn’t moving forward. Problems are signs that you’re making progress and heading in the right direction. Learn to commit first, and figure out how to show up later.

One of the major differences between successful and unsuccessful people is that the former look for problems to resolve, whereas the latter make every attempt to avoid them. So remember: Overcommit, be all in, and take massive levels of action followed up by massive amounts of more actions. You will create new problems and deliver at levels that will amaze even you.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the book The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure. It is published here with permission.

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