At the beginning of my second year selling insurance, I determined that I was working way too hard for what little results I was experiencing. I also felt frustrated with inconsistency and the fact that despite all of my efforts, time and energy I had not met my goals.
The person that hired and trained me made it seem as though making a lot of money in sales would be a cakewalk. I still remember my initial job interview when my soon to be boss had used a dry erase board to write down $100,000 and said, "Todd, with your good looks, positive attitude, and the discipline you obtained in the Marine Corps, there's no doubt in my mind that you will make over $100,000 in your first year."
I remember thinking, "100,000 DOLLARS!" At this point in my life the most I had ever made was a little over $19,000 a year. Personally, I had never even conceived the idea of making $100,000 a year, but after that interview I had one objective. Get home and tell my wife that we were going to be rich!
I was 26 years old and had just completed four years of service in the US Marine Corps. I was full of energy, ideas, and confidence. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make over $100,000. As a matter of fact I was so confident that my wife and I started living as if we had already made $100,000. That was probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made because ended my first year $67,000 short of that goal.
If it wasn't for the $26,000 base income financed to me by the company (which I had to eventually pay back) I would have only made around $7,000 my first year. It was at this point, the beginning of my second year that I wanted answers. I wanted to know:
What good is a goal if you can't hold yourself accountable to that goal?
What was I missing or not doing that was keeping me from my goals?
I even remember asking myself, "So what do you want to do? Quit?" I'm glad I didn't quit because the rewards that have come from the sales profession have far exceeded any expectations that I originally had for the business; let alone the tremendous impact it's had in my personal life and financial situation. This is why I want to share my story and what I did that allowed me to achieve success.
The first thing I felt I needed to do was to establish greater clarity as to the things that made my business run. To do so, I envisioned myself as a major corporation. I thought to myself, "Todd, imagine that your office was partitioned into cubicles and in these cubicles were the offices of the people responsible for that particular operation." So I went up to my dry erase board and drew a floor plan that represented these cubicles I was imagining in my mind.
Once I established the key operations of my business and labeled each of them on my dry erase board. I then started to write down some of the responsibilities and routine tasks of each department. When I got to the "Sales Department" I had to think for a while. The first responsibility that came to mind was to sell. However, based on my results in my first year "SELLING" seemed to be a lot more complicated than it appeared. After all, if all l I had to do was "sell", why wasn't I selling? I then asked myself this question,
"Todd, if you had 1,000 sales people working in your corporation what would be the only activities you'd want to see them doing?"
Would I want to see them putting together mailings? Paying the bills? Processing claims? My answer was "no". Those were the responsibilities of other personnel. So I thought a little longer. "What would I want to see my sales people doing?"
It's the answer to this question that began the very core to my success. After much consideration, I concluded that the only thing I'd want to see my people doing was:
CALLING THE PEOPLE
SEEING THE PEOPLE
After drawing this floor plan on my dry erase board I stood back and thought, "Which of these key operations make the whole corporation run?" I concluded it was the sales department.
Sales is at the heart of all successful businesses. Without sales there is no revenue, which means there is no jobs, because there will be no company. This is why it's not only the most important department, but also the highest paying.
My next step was to decide which department I was going to run. As you can imagine I chose sales. I then figured if I was going to run this department I needed to not only do the activities I would expect to see my sales force doing, but I felt it important to master them; to be the best there ever was at calling and seeing the people!
I began my second year in the sales profession seeking to minimize my involvement in "operational activities" in an effort to increase my involvement in the activities of calling and seeing the people.
My second year was a complete turn around from my first year. Not only did I meet my goals, I exceeded them. I found myself working less, while making more and I no longer had a problem turning the business off and enjoying the tremendous perks that come with being a sales professional. Everything just came together. I felt more balanced, in control and capable. All because I started doing what mattered, doing it often and doing it well!
CALLING THE PEOPLE
SEEING THE PEOPLE
Mastering the activities that bring production and balancing day-to-day operational activities with day-to-day income-producing activities is no easy task. It requires training, effective processes, systems, and an ongoing effort to improve personal performance. It doesn't matter if your goal is to make an extra $100, $1,000 or $10,000 a month. What matters is that you're putting time into the activities that make the realization of your goal possible. ACTIVITY!
"Where there is activity, there is success!" - Todd C Shafer
By Todd Shafer