The sermon at my church this week was about Caleb. This made my ears perk up, because Caleb is also my son’s name. If you are not familiar with the Biblical Caleb, here is all you need to know for the sake of this message. Caleb was a contemporary of Joshua, and one of the many who spent 45 years wandering in the desert before finally being able to go into the promised land.
As the pastor was talking about “Caleb qualities”, my sales centric brain began considering those qualities and how much they apply to sales success. I will leave your religious enlightenment to the more capable hands of someone who does that for a living, and focus my take-aways for the world of sales. So here goes the analogy.
Not everyone got into the promised land. The great majority of the 45 year wanderers never did. They died in the desert. The people who did succeed, had a few common traits, which are the “Caleb Qualities”. Sales is a desert. Initially, it can look like a long, wandering slog, with lots of perils, rejection, failures and other obstacles. If you want to see what successful sales professionals have in common (what took them to their “promised land”), you’ll find that they focused on being “exceptional” people. Not normal, not average, not good enough, not just acceptable, but exceptional. Caleb and Joshuah got into the promised land because they were exceptional. So what makes someone
“exceptional”? What are the “Caleb Qualities” that make someone stand out from the pack?
Here are the ones that stood out to me:
– An all-in attitude – Successful sales people don’t work in sales part time. It’s not a 9-5 thing. They read books, listen to podcasts, study their craft, track their activity and know their conversions. The world is full of part time players. People who make a half hearted effort and expect the world to meet them halfway. If you want to stand out and be exceptional, you have to commit. You have to know your product, learn new skills, push yourself out of your comfort zone. You have to build your confidence and your belief in your product to the point of being bulletproof on it being a winner. Your commitment to success has to be absolute, unshakeable. That does NOT mean you try to force sell anyone. Certainty your product is good is NOT the same as certainty that it is a fit for any one prospect. I know what I teach works, but I also know not everyone is ready to hear it right now.
– Persistent Preparation – Show me the master of any single task, and I’ll show you the person who has countless repetitions at that task. Practice doesn’t make perfect, PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect. Muscle memory is what it takes to be good at something. There is no shortcut. Every person you think is a natural at something, every person you think was an instant success is actually someone who put in a ton of reps. Hollywood tales aside, there is no substitute for practicing, refining, analyzing your results, making adjustments and then its lather, rinse, and repeat. Added to that is what I call the static rule. The world is moving, with or without you. If you are not moving forward, you are getting left behind. I don’t care how good someone else is at it, I care how good I am at it compared to yesterday’s version of me. That’s the guy I try to beat every day.
– An overwhelming optimism – My glasses are not rose colored. I see all the obstacles ahead, and I am well aware nothing is ever going to be easy. However, I choose to focus on the possibilities ahead, versus the limitations of yesterday. This pairs nicely with the preparation quality. My failures have been the teachers that have propelled my successes. I fear inaction far more than the wrong action. Scientists have done studies on regret. Did you know that most people’s end of life regrets are not regretting things they did, but regretting things they did not do? Yet most of us live our lives in the negative mind state of fearing mistakes. Optimism isn’t about liking and loving everything. It is about focusing on the good outcomes, and having a penchant for taking action.
So I ask you:
Have you made the commitment to success?
Do you proactively prepare, rehearse and practice?
Do you default to taking action, and focus your mind on what can be?
After Sunday’s sermon, I’m now calling these the Caleb qualities. Audit yourself for these regularly.