When I was 19, my dad made me production manager of his 75-employee kitchen cabinet manufacturing factory. Before I officially took the job I worked in the shop at each job, and set production standards based on what I could produce at each station.
On my first official day as boss, Ozzie, our superstar (main guy in most important position) cabinet assembler came to me and asked for a 25¢ per hour raise. I went to my dad for advice and he said, "Give it to him, son." So I did.
A week later Ozzie returned and demanded (said he would quit if he didn't get it) another 25¢ raise. I went back to my dad for advice and he said, "Fire him, son." I went nuclear, "You can't fire Ozzie," I pleaded, "the place will fall apart." "Fire him, son," he repeated. So I did.
I dreaded the next day. But to my everlasting surprise, four guys came forward to claim Ozzie's position. We had a contest to see who would get it. Production was up 25% and "Mr. Irreplaceable" was replaced in less than 24 hours -- and never missed.
How irreplaceable do you think you are, Ozzie?
I have heard salespeople boast on hundreds of occasions:
• If it wasn't for me this place would fold.
• If it wasn't for me we'd be out of business.
• This place couldn't survive without me.
• I do all the selling so this place can operate.
• My sales built this place.
Those are warning chants that the end is near.
Here are 9.5 early warning signals that sales brain cancer has set in.
1. You think sale reports are a waste of time.
2. Everyone else does wrong things except you.
3. You get blamed for things you're sure are someone else's fault.
4. You think your sales production could be better - if you just got a few breaks.
5. You don't listen to sales tapes in the car, or do anything to further your sales education.
6. You're way too cocky.
7. At night you socialize instead of plan your next day.
8. You go to sales calls unprepared.
9. You think most prospects and customers are dumb (or at least not as smart as you).
9.5 You think your boss is stupid.
Many salespeople get fired and claim they don't know why. Truth is they can't or won't face themselves. They blame others instead of taking personal responsibility. If you get fired - and you leave thinking it's someone else's fault - you'll repeat the process. If you get blamed - and you think it's someone else's fault - you'll repeat the process.
It may take one face down spill in the gutter - to wake you up. But it's a whole lot easier (and less costly) to catch yourself before you fall.
Success Strategies: Here are a few steps that will lead to better personal and team responsibility.
• Look at your belief system. To succeed at sales you must believe that you're the best, your company is the best, and that your product is the best. All three are needed to succeed.
• Rededicate yourself to be more customer focused -- not me focused. Customer dedication eliminates a lot of the ego problems. When you're busy helping customers, you're time to brag and complain diminishes.
• Rededicate yourself to get more educated. Listen to attitude and sales tapes an hour a day.
• Work longer hours. Get there an hour before everyone else. People who struggle to get to work "on-time" never seem to make it.
• Get more team oriented. Help others get sales. Help others succeed.
• Transition from cocky to self confident. Show it with deeds, not words.
• Transition from blaming others to taking responsibility. Most of the time when things go wrong, you could have done something to prevent it. Admit fault. Take the hit without a bunch of defensive whining.
• Read (re-read) How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, and Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. The two bibles of sales success. Rededicate yourself to those success principles.
• Admit the truth to yourself. Admit fault. Then tell others what you could have done to have prevented the problem or made things better. In order for things to change -- you must change. Not much will happen without a change in attitude and eating a piece of humble pie. Admit it -- it starts with you.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Knock Your Socks Off Selling and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless; Customer Loyalty is Priceless. To order Jeffrey's many books and/or audios and videos, go to www.yoursuccessstore.com. (c) 1999 All Rights Reserved.