Change

by Linda P. Kester March/April 2008

Everyone has habits and patterns that determine their actions and interactions. And when change disrupts those things, it can cause fear and is rarely, if ever, fun. While it isn’t always easy, change can lead to growth, progress and even confidence. Monitor columnist Linda Kester explains why.

Occasionally when I walk into a room to lead a sales training class, a few reluctant reps will be sitting with their arms folded across their chests. Their jaws are clenched and their eyes are filled with impatience. Their body language screams, “I don’t want to be here. This is a waste of time.”

Why are they so uncomfortable? Because they fear change. They would rather be back at their desks, doing the same things, following the same habits that they have for years, even if they are aware that these habits produce mediocre business results. What they don’t realize is that a key secret to leasing sales success is creating energy by changing habits.

We all have habit patterns that control how we relate to our family, how we relate to our friends, how we drive our cars, and how we speak to a customer in person or over the telephone. Changing these habit patterns is not easy. Just ask anyone who has tried to stop smoking, cut down on coffee, or treat family and friends in a different way.

Changing habit patterns causes discomfort and friction. For example, if your employees sit in the same chairs for every meeting, change the seating arrangement one day; you will notice a change in the atmosphere of the room. There will be a different energy in the meeting. The conversation will change. The employees will become more aware of the moment and break out of a collective mind pattern.

One type of a change that a leasing sales professional could make would be to quit complaining. I know salespeople who feel that complaining about their credit department, rates and operations is a main part of their job. The sales rep needs to be made aware of their constant complaints. It may have become such a habitual way of thinking that they hardly notice it. When they become aware in the moment of their complaining and try to stop they may experience some friction.

It is through discomfort that energy can be created. The energy can be created by looking for the good in the company they work for. Focus on what they like about their employer and communicate the positive aspects of their company to potential vendors. This energy will create growth in the sales rep and in his volume.

Another illustration is to change your normal morning routine. Most salespeople come to work, get a cup of coffee, banter with co-workers, check their e-mail and finally start to prospect at approximately 10:00 a.m. If a sales rep does what everyone else is doing then how can he stand out in a crowd? Easy, by making changes. He can arrive at work, identify ten good prospects, set a primary and secondary objective for each call and make ten calls before he gets a cup of coffee or opens his e-mail. (I know some of you reading this are saying to yourself “Do I really have to do that?” Or, “I couldn’t do that!” My response to that is how bad to you really want increased results? ) Just realize that change of any habit will create within you, at least in the beginning, a feeling of discomfort or friction.

Friction equals heat. Heat equals energy. It is through discomfort that energy can be created. Energy equals growth. What this all means is that it is the energy created by trying to change habit patterns that provides for the possibility of growth. How do you accept the necessity for change? How do you make yourself go through the uncomfortable task of changing your current systems? How do you go from being a mediocre sales person to a successful one?

The answer is to form a habit of doing things that are initially uncomfortable. Successful people have formed the habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do. It’s just as true as it sounds and it’s just as simple as it seems. This is a common denominator of success whether we like it or not.

This explains why people with every apparent qualification for success have given us our most disappointing failures, while others have achieved outstanding success in spite of many obvious and discouraging handicaps.

I firmly believe that life is all about progress, growth and change. It is only through change, through doing things differently than we have done them before, that we have the possibility for growth. It is by lifting more weight that the weight lifter can expect to build muscle. It is when he lifts more than what he is comfortable with that his muscles will begin to grow. Similarly, the runner does not make gains unless he goes past his present comfort level and runs further or faster than he did before.

The leasing salesperson also, in order to grow, must be prepared to face discomfort while working against those habit patterns that presently control his actions. If a rep has never made a lot of money, and desires to do so, he needs to observe his habit patterns to determine which of them must be changed.

Case in point, one sales rep I worked with was struggling with minimal volume and low income. She would drive around with the intention of prospecting only to be distracted and avoid any uncomfortable situation. She started making small changes in her routine like sending an e-mail before making a face-to-face call, and asking better questions that allowed the prospect to reveal their true needs. These small changes gave her more confidence, which allowed her to make bigger changes. Now she is a top producer for her company.

Another rep that I worked with was so anxious to please his vendors that he never wanted to convey a decline. The deal would be rejected and he would call the vendor and say: “We’re still working on it; can you get me some more information?” Inevitably the deal would remain declined. The vendor would become frustrated because he would have rather had a quick answer than be strung along with the hope of an approval only to receive a negative response one week later. The rep needed to change this habit and convey the decline as soon as the deal was decisioned. This way if the deal was appealable at least he was able to let the vendor know how hard he was working to get the transaction approved.

Many reps have the habit of accepting brush offs from a prospect. The lessee will say, “Now is not a good time. Call back in three months.” They need to verify that the prospect is sincere. Instead of accepting that statement and getting off the phone they should respond with: “OK, so what you’re saying is that you are interested in doing business together. It’s just that now is not a good time?” Then find out what will happen in three months, making that a better time.

Force yourself to be a little uncomfortable and try new techniques. Then do this again the next day, and the next day and so on. If you continue the process of changing bad habits to more productive ones, you will finally wake up some morning a different person in a different world, and you will wonder what has happened to you and the world you used to live in.

What happened? Your decision has become a habit and you don’t have to make it on this particular morning. And the reason for your seeming like a different person living in a different world lies in the fact that for the first time in your life, you have become the master of yourself by shifting from a habitual routine to disciplining yourself for success.


Linda P. Kester is a bestselling author and professional speaker with 20 years of experience in leasing sales and marketing management. She has helped hundreds of salespeople increase their volume. Her book, 366 Marketing Tips for Equipment Leasing, has produced results for leasing companies in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia.

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