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Facing Reality

by David Brock on January 30th, 2012

One of the things I love the most about sales people is the eternal optimism.  It really takes a tremendously positive outlook to be a great sales person.  After all, we face rejection every day.  We face challenges and obstacles in every situation.  Some are challenges come from changing customer expectations. We always face market and competitive challenges.  Sometimes we face challenges from within our own companies.

It requires tremendous resilience and optimism to succeed in selling.

But sometimes that optimism hurts us.  Sometimes it prevents us from looking at reality, from seeing things the way they really are, not how we want them to be.  This is, perhaps, the most dangerous challenge sales people face.  It’s one of our own creation.  And it’s funny, it sneaks up on us–it never smacks us in the face, it kind of creeps in.  All of a sudden we find ourselves mired in a very difficult situation, struggling to understand and work our ways out.

It happens all sorts of ways.  Our pipelines aren’t as full as we want.  Our managers may be pressuring us to increase the numbers of deals in the pipeline.  We relax our qualification criteria to get more deals—but because they aren’t in our sweet spot, our ability to win is threatened.  All of a sudden our win rates go down.  This makes our pipelines look worse, we relax our qualification criteria further…. you know how this story ends.

Or it’s the deal we just can’t let go.  We’ve invested a lot of time and resource.  We believe if we just do a few more things, we can persevere.  We do those, it’s not sufficient, we do a few more…… it goes on forever.  The deal’s dead, but we can’t let it go.

Or we are busy, our days our filled with meeting after meeting, call after call.  But we aren’t making progress.  We confuse busyness with progress and accomplishment.

Facing reality is critical to our success.  If our pipelines aren’t full, we mask the real problem by filling them with junk.  If a deal just won’t move forward, continuing with wishful thinking doesn’t change things–it keeps us from really understanding what it takes to win–or even if it is winnable  And busyness masks everything.  We don’t have the time to reflect, to understand if we are making progress or just filling our time.

Facing reality is tough.  We may discover things we don’t want to confront.  We may not be as strong as we had hoped we were.  We may discover we need new skills to improve our ability to compete.  It may tell us we’re spending our time with the wrong customers–that we may have to find new customers.

Facing reality is important.  Good or bad, it provides the ability to understand the issues most impacting our performance.  It helps us identify and solve our problems.  It allows us to improve or fix things that keep us from achieving our goals.

It’s easy and tempting to fool ourselves, to the point of hiding our heads in the sand.  But that doesn’t fix the problem, it makes it worse.

If you aren’t achieving your goals, are you really looking at what’s happening.  Are you seeing things the way they are or the way you want them to be?  Facing reality is the only path to performance improvement.

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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