I have sleep apnea, a common sleeping disorder that affects 12 million Americans. Apneas occur when you stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times and for as much as a minute long, during sleep. Fortunately, getting fitted for what they call a CPAP – a mask attached to a machine that pumps humidified air into your nostrils, eliminates the apneas.
I was fitted to a mask and regulated 7 months ago and I during the past seven months have observed the incredible similarities to what a salesperson experiences during the sales development/training/coaching/improvement process.
At first I had tremendous difficulty falling asleep with the mask – although it was good for me, I wasn’t comfortable with it.
Then, I would wake up in the middle of the night and rip the horrible thing off my head -although it was good for me, I wasn’t comfortable with it.
Then, I would wake up in the middle of the night, rip it off, recognize that I ripped it off, and replace it on my head – it was good for me and I was developing an awareness of how important it was and how my discomfort was interfering with my progress.
Then, I would wake up towards morning and take it off for the last hour or two – it was good for me and despite my awareness, I still wasn’t comfortable doing everything I was supposed to do – like wear it all night. After all, what were the chances I would die close to sunrise?
Finally, around month 6, I could easily fall asleep, sleep through the night, not be aware that it was on my head and feel good about myself in the morning.
Compare my journey to the journey of a salesperson that is being trained, coached, or mentored to improve in sales. Your “apnea” is that you stop asking questions, listening, pushing forward, following an effective process, closing, or any one of many other life supporting strategies and tactics.
You are fitted to a new sales process which is optimized for your company and you are provided with new strategies and tactics to help you be more consultative, ask more questions, qualify and close more effectively.
At first, you have tremendous difficulty selling with this new process. Although it is good for you, you aren’t comfortable with it.
Then, you would find yourself in the middle of the process and abort – although it is good for you, you aren’t comfortable with it.
Then, you would find yourself in the middle of the process, abort, recognize that you aborted the process and return to it – it is good for you and you are developing an awareness of how important it is and how your discomfort is interfering with your progress.
Then, you would get through most of the sales process but skip qualifying – it was good for you and despite your awareness, you still aren’t comfortable doing everything you are supposed to do – like follow the entire process. After all, what are the chances that you won’t get the business just because you skipped the qualification?
Finally, around month 6, you can easily execute the process, strategies and tactics, not be aware that you are doing anything uncomfortable, and feel good about yourself when you close the business.
Lesson: If you stay with it, overcome your discomfort and finish the process, you will develop into a top 6% elite salesperson. The key is, don’t wait until you are comfortable! It will never happen. Instead, push through your discomfort and you will become comfortable over time.
|Sleep Apnea||Sales Development|
|1||can’t fall asleep – rip mask off||can’t use process – abort|
|2||wake up – rip mask off||uncomfortable mid process – abort|
|3||wake up – rip mask off – replace mask||uncomfortable mid process – abort – return to process|
|4||wake up near morning – take mask off||uncomfortable late in process – abort|
|5||sleep through the night and feel good||execute entire process, strategy and tactics and feel good|