Focus: The Secret to Great Sales

Rochelle Carrington of Sandler Training shows us how one tweak can make all the difference in sales performance.
Rochelle Carrington

This guest post was written by Rochelle Carrington, CEO of Sandler Training, Make sure to follow Sandler Training on Twitter for more sales tips and tricks.

Last week, I took a golf lesson. It seems the message is always the same: “keep your head down and your wrists cocked.”  Of course, after each lesson, I believe wholeheartedly that I did exactly what the pro taught me. That is, until we “go to the video.”  Unfortunately for me, video never lies. Watching it demonstrates that I’m not doing what I think I am.  

Why is it that we think we are following directions when the reality is we aren’t even close? Is it because we aren’t paying attention to what we are taught or does it stem from a lack of self awareness?  No matter the reason, it occurs in many areas of our lives–especially in sales.

Have you ever been coached on what to say to a prospect or customer and thought you were doing it, only to find that you didn’t really execute what you were taught? It happens to all of us.

In our daily lives, we easily fall into the default mode of “tuning things out.” With the barrage of information that hits us every day, it has become more challenging to focus and remember details, especially when it comes to processing new information. Our habit of tuning things out becomes even greater when the information presented is different than what we typically believe and gets us out of our comfort zone.

In cases like that, we allow our mind to drift, either toward questions or doubts about whether the new information will actually work–and sometimes whether we can execute. In the few seconds when our minds take a break, we miss critical information that allows us to learn. Inability to remember every finite detail is human nature. However, if we don’t pay close attention when we learn, when the time comes to execute the task, we start to fill in the gaps. We make assumptions based on what makes sense to us.

If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with someone while multitasking, you have experienced the "mind drifting" in action.  After all, our minds were not made to focus on more than one thing at a time. So how do we improve?

Here are three ways to ensure that you execute what you have been taught rather than what you think you heard:

Focus on what you’re being told. Take notes and write down what you hear. That way you can fill in the gaps if you find you missed something in your notes.

Become a parrot. The best salespeople are those that can “parrot” back what they are taught or what they hear. They are able to set aside their ego and preconceived notions and focus solely on execution, not re-creation. It doesn’t mean you become a robot, but the less time you spend “recrafting” what you were taught, the more effective and efficient you’ll be at executing the technique.

Record yourself. This can be painful, but the best way to discover whether you’re doing what you were taught is to listen to yourself after the fact or read a transcript of your call.

These three steps may take extra time, but as any great golfer or athlete knows, winning comes as a result of practice, which often means having a third party coach you on how to be better.

The nice thing about doing a “postmortem” is that you’re less emotionally involved than you are in the moment.  You will see where you execute well and where you can make tweaks to help you win more often.  In the game of golf and the game of sales, one tweak can make all the difference. So go to “the video,” become more conscious, and set yourself up to win!

Happy selling!

-Rochelle