Years ago I was giving a presentation to a room full of sales reps, whose performance I was ultimately responsible for. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce myself as their new manager, talk about my philosophy and style, and then let them know what I expected of them. Sounds fun, huh?
I can tell you, having been both the presenter and the presentee in these types of meetings, they almost always leave everyone in the room feeling a little more stressed out than when they arrived. Often, they accomplish very little, and usually they aren’t extremely motivating. I mean, how many ways can you tell someone the same way that Alec Baldwin did in Glengarry Glen Ross, that “1st place is a Cadillac El Dorado…2nd place is a set of steak knives..and 3rd place is YOU’RE FIRED!” See what I mean by fun?
So as I prepared for the meeting, I was thinking of all the wonderful ways I could rephrase the same old stuff and maybe make it sound just a little more appealing. It seemed the more I tried, the more I thought, “I wouldn’t want to sit in a room and hear this”. So I decided to go in another direction. I decided to actually think about what it was that I would be asking them to do. Hit their numbers – yes, grow our share of the business – yes, be accountable – yes, but what was it that I really needed to get out of them in order for all of these other things to come together?
I wanted the team to be successful of course, and I surely wanted us to accomplish our revenue goals. But I also wanted each of them to end up being better individuals as well as better sales people by the time all was said and done.
Then it hit me. It all comes down to just one thing. Effort. I could ask for their effort.
Everyone can give effort right? But then I wondered, “how can I quantify that?”
After thinking it through more than a few times, and writing and rewriting my thoughts, I decided to turn my original idea into one of the best learning tools that any presenter can bring to a meeting: an acronym! Yes, that wonderful visual spelling aid that makes every word a study guide, and helps people remember the true meaning of the lesson long after the joy of the session itself has subsided. In all seriousness, it is a pretty cool way to teach things. But I also knew that if I was to go this route, it had better make sense. After all, I was going to be speaking to a pretty large group of skilled and intelligent people who wouldn’t fall for a few catchy phrases trying to pass for actual applicable knowledge.
So, I had to dig a little deeper.
Here’s the little acronym I developed for EFFORT:
E very day
F ollow up
O rganize yourself
T ake the time
And here’s what it means:
EVERY DAY – Every single day that you’re “on the clock” you have a chance to do something extraordinary. If you’re going to be at work, why not give it 100%? So, come in every day energized and make the conscious decision to be positive. Challenge yourself to make something great happen! Here’s one of my favorite quotes:
“It isn’t difficult to be great from time to time, what’s difficult is to be great every day” –Willie Mays
FOCUS – Focus on the task at hand and become a finisher! The easiest thing in the world to do is to become distracted. Our minds can run in several directions at once, and multi tasking has become more the norm than the exception. Instead of trying to master all things simultaneously, focus on accomplishing one goal at a time…one project at a time…one day at a time. Your attention and energy can be amazing forces to help you achieve anything – but only if they are focused.
FOLLOW UP – One of the best ways to separate yourself from your competition is to simply do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. While it is amazing what passes for customer service these days, don’t be drawn into mediocrity. Be exceptional. Return phone calls, e-mails, text messages, etc. Be on time. Deliver what you say you will. You’ll be better than 90% of the people out there by doing these simple things.
ORGANIZE YOURSELF – Create some systems to keep yourself on track. Keep good files and good records. Operate as best you can in a clean workplace. If you have stacks of paper that have been on your desk for more than a week – throw them out (in the recycle bin, of course). You won’t miss them. Whether you use Outlook or a tickler file, organize your prospects and your method and timeliness of contact. Create good habits.
RELATIONSHIPS – Relationships, relationships, relationships. It’s what makes the world go round. And especially in business. Work on cultivating positive and meaningful relationships with your co-workers. Don’t forget the people in different departments that are instrumental to your success. And of course, work hard to create positive and profitable partnerships in the business world. Relationships can take different forms. Not everyone is warm and fuzzy. Not everyone is cold and callus. Adapt, adjust, but create real relationships. It will carry you throughout your career and your life.
TAKE THE TIME – I say, take the time to do things the right way. We’ve all heard that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And that’s so true! The one thing you don’t want to do is the same thing over and over because you weren’t willing to give it the attention you should have in order to get it done right the first time. You reap what you sow. If you put the effort in on the front end, your life as a sales person or really just as a regular person will be so much more rewarding. It’s always best to do anything you do the way it should be done. Make sense?
And that ended up being the meeting. Sure, it took about 17 times as long as it took you to read this post, but that’s the beauty of both the board room and the blog…
By the way, that particular group of salespeople accomplished many great things for the years that I worked with them, and many of them have gone on to bigger and better things today. We celebrated a lot of victories and major accomplishments together, and I’m proud to have been a part of all of their successes. It’s funny that all it took was a little effort from all of us.