Who is your biggest competitor? No, it’s not the guy down the street or the Internet printer. Our biggest competitor is our way of thinking. Consider it this way. If you were the only person in your shop, you would have to print, bind, answer the telephone, collect the receivables, and pay the bills. And you have to do something else, in some form or other, to succeed. You have to sell.
When we take apart selling, we find the essence is initiating contact with strangers. And that’s where we compete with ourselves because most of us have inhibitions about making that initial contact. Therefore, we don’t.
Inhibited Social Contact Initiation Syndrome is what it is called. When applied to selling it’s called Sales Call Reluctance; a subject extensively researched by behavioral scientists George Dudley and Shannon Goodson. Ninety percent of more than half a million salespeople measured have some form of it, so it’s safe to say a lot of business owners have some form of it.
The researchers have shown that those who initiate contact more than others are the winners. It’s not who knows the most, how well they present, their ability to develop relationships, or any other factor save one: They have to initiate contacts. It’s certainly beneficial to be motivated, articulate, knowledgeable, and agreeable. But you can lose any one of those behaviors and still be successful. However, it’s almost impossible to be successful without initiating contact with strangers.
What’s the Problem?
Why don’t we make the calls? Motivation and goals get in the way of some people, and not just the seminar-talk type. Motivation isn’t just thoughts and feelings. It is thoughts, feelings, and action. If you won’t act, then you aren’t motivated.
Think of motivation as energy. A person may lack the physical energy or motivation to perform and that’s not reluctance; it’s lack of strength. That may be due to a number of reasons, most of which are physical. It could be a disease, a dependency issue, or depression. The bottom line is if we don’t have the energy, then we need to get checked. It may be more than just a lack of “want to.”
Perhaps a person has other money. That’s a great reason not to perform and, believe it or not, is the top reason we see. They either have other money, are going to inherit other money, or suspect that they are going to inherit other money. That’s a motivation drainer because they just don’t have to, so they’re not going to. They’ll wait it out and piddle around in the business until their ship lands. I hope it works out for them.
Perhaps we have high motivation; meaning plenty of energy to hit the floor running every day. What about the goal? We might not have a goal that is personally meaningful to us. And it stands to reason that the outcome will look pretty much the same as it does for a person without motivation or energy if there’s no real goal.
Interestingly, I find it common for owners not to have goals. There’s the fear of business death, but there’s a great deal of lack of focus once we pass that. Prospering goals are a lot harder to deal with than fear goals. Not to confuse you, but some people who are outwardly successful don’t have goals or their goals are too low. Remember, luck is involved in business as well as hard work.
What’s even more interesting, some people actually have an aversion to goals. And these aren’t just the ones who merely profess to disdain goals or competition; there are people who really freeze up. There are procedures to work with these conditions, but we’ll have to cover that in a later article.
For now, let’s assume we have motivation and the goal is adequate, clear cut, and personally meaningful. Well, there’s another issue: Too many goals. We want to do a lot of things, but haven’t prioritized them. We will spend our energy and motivation focusing on one target (goal) then another in rapid order, only to repeat it over again. The result is the same as not having motivation or a clear goal: Little is accomplished. So, prioritization is in order here.