I began practicing yoga 4+ years ago as a way to stay fit, flexible and healthy so that I could maintain my type A lifestyle. At that time I was working in the chaotic world of local media sales which further accelerated my type A tendencies.
Actually, I did not find yoga. Yoga found me. The studio I chose to practice at fit conveniently into my hectic schedule offering classes 5 nights a week at 8:30pm. This gave me time to rush home from work, feed my family, get the homework underway, race to the studio, lie down on my mat and wonder if anyone remembered to feed the dogs.
Class began with the teacher reminding us that yoga is a journey and to work to the edge while honoring where our bodies were that night. But that wasn’t for me. No, yoga was simply a means to an end. It wasn’t about the journey it was about quick results – I wanted maximum results in minimum time. If the person next to me was standing on one leg while pulling the other leg backwards and up over their head then by golly my leg would be over my head too, even if it hurt to contort into such a position. Needless to say I was incredibly sore after my first couple of dozen classes and sustained a few sidelining injuries early. While I put on quite a show, my goals remained elusive.
Meanwhile, my teachers told me I brought a “new kind of something” into the yoga room. “Do tell,” I said. “Frantic energy,” they replied. They advised me to slow down and use that energy to strengthen my core because a strong core would be the foundation needed to allow me to achieve my goals.
That’s when it hit me: I was frantic in the yoga room and just as frantic at work (just like most of my colleagues at the media company). We were frantic to figure out how to balance this world of new and traditional media and how to maximize sales results within it. We tried everything. We wrote sales pitches and made every rep memorize them. And then, when the results didn’t material fast enough, we rewrote them and memorized the new ones. We design product bundles, certain that our clients would see their value and the sales people find them easier to sell. And then, when the results didn’t materialize fast enough, we redesigned them all over again. We swapped out sales managers and sale people, certain we could achieve better results by replacing them with new people who were outstanding performers in other companies. And then, when the results didn’t materialize fast enough, we swapped them out again. By now you probably get the picture: Just like in yoga, at the office I was working frantically but not achieving the desired results that our investors, shareholders and employees expected.
What we didn’t try was exactly what my yoga teachers had been coaching me to do in my practice; slow down and redirect the energy to strengthen the core. So there are three lessons I take away from my yoga journey that I share with you to make your sales journey more rewarding:
1. Slow down
Take the time to assess, plan, do and review. If you are not getting the desired results with your current plan then consider doing a formal sales effectiveness assessment. Take the time to look at your current recruiting and training models, sales and coaching processes and methodologies, SFA utilization, marketing support and compensation plan in light of the changing environment and determine where gaps exist. Direct your precious resources and energy on doing those things that will have meaningful and significant business impact for you and your clients.
2. Concentrate on gaps in the core first
Clearly defined sales and coaching processes and methodologies are the core of high performing sales organizations. Why? Because it gives sales people and their managers a clear roadmap for success. When the sales process and methodology is clearly defined you can take ordinary people, place them in the structure, teach them the process by which you know they can succeed and coach them to extraordinary performance. When you examine any department that produces consistent results it is typically because someone has identified the logical, repeatable process by which the department can perform its function.
3. Listen to your coach
Sales Coaches not only need to know and demonstrate your sales process and methodology they must also master the coaching process that your organization, has clearly defined. Effective sales coaching is the accelerator on your sales process and it has been determined that effective sales coaching can increase performance by up to 20%.
I have learned to take coaching from my yoga teachers. I have slowed down, strengthened my core, and my foot is almost over my head. But more importantly I am reaching my health and fitness goals. My hope is that you can apply these same principles to your sales organization and improve its fitness. Namaste.
When you faced a challenge in your selling career what are some of the things you did to break through it?