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Firefighting
by Pat Schuler

Do you feel like you’re spending a significant portion of your day or week putting out fires? More so than you used to?
Do many things seem to get complicated, cumbersome and demanding?
Do you often find yourself feeling weary and frustrated at the end of the day, like you’ve been pushing the boulder uphill all day?

We hear many prospective clients blaming their fatigue and frustration on the current state of their markets and the economy. What we usually find as we do our discovery work is that these sales professionals and business owners have the following in common:

• They are working longer hours and seeing fewer results.
• Their prices and profits are being eroded.
• Negotiations are tougher because they feel so much of the power lies with the buyer.

We’ve all heard “Work smarter, not longer.” Easier said than done in this economy. Many of us are working smarter AND longer. And still feeling as though we fall short of our goals at the end of the week or month. Or that we really need another 4 hours each day, or another day in the week.

Yes, the economy may have changed our market. But we need to ask ourselves, “What else has changed?” “Have I changed my sales process or behaviors without realizing it?”

Our experience with clients who are working extremely long hours is that:
1. They may be trying to be all things to all people, instead of concentrating on their strengths or moving to a new area of specialization.
2. They may be pursing business that is marginal or very-low profit, hoping to make it up in volume.
3. They may be letting the prospect drive the time and negotiation of the sale, for fear of losing the deal.
4. They may be in reactive mode, instead of proactive mode; survival tactics instead of winning strategy.
5. They may be acting from fear and desperation, and are either already in burn out, or very close.

The pivot question I want you to ask yourself this week is:

Am I just reacting or am I working my strategic plan? Do I even have a strategic plan, besides Let’s Try to Keep the Lights On?

1. Set aside 30 minutes of quality time for yourself and get a rough draft of your Strategic Plan on paper. It doesn’t have to be a 30 page marvel. It can be one page, or even a 3X5 card. But get a direction down and some bullet points on how to get there.

2. Set aside another 30 minutes to brain storm with your team on ways to strengthen and fine tune your rough draft. Have everyone on the team sign it, and make copies for everyone to carry.

3. Schedule periodic times for the team to review and revise the Strategic Plan, and honor the commitments, no matter what.

Leverage the great power in creating your Strategic Plan and having everyone on the team carrying the same vision and pulling in the same direction.

Ask yourself, If business were good, would I make this concession? Are my actions telegraphing desperation to the prospect? As a buyer, how comfortable would I feel doing business with desperate people?

This week, on a small deal, try acting as if, as if you already had your goals made and had all the business you needed. See what it feels like to regain control of your sale, even in a small way.

Other Empowering Articles for those in Sales

Feel free to use the above article in your publication or on your
web site. Make sure the following credit is attached:

"Pat Schuler is a Business Development Coach and Sales Trainer. She is also President and founder of The Gemini Resources Group, which helps business, technical and sales professionals increase their revenue a minimum of 30 %. Clients learn to unfold the mystery that sometimes surrounds selling skills as they move from anxiety and fear to action and success.

Contact The Gemini Resources Group at kitt@geminipro.com or 763-533-2806 to find how you can see revenue increases of 30% minimum.”

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