Any role in sales or sales management is going to bring with it a considerable number of problems – or challenges as it’s more trendy to call them. Or if you really want to be with the programme...'opportunities'.
Whatever they are called where you work, they need attention and usually quickly – otherwise they are going to fester and eat away at you. Many of us still reside in the ‘hope they go away’ camp – but in reality how often do your problems just dissolve into thin air? Thought so!
What constitutes a problem? Could be a lost order, a sizeable customer complaint, new industry regulations pending, a personality clash - I’m sure you can add to that list with volition!
Yet it seems that no matter how many issues come up, many seem unable or unwilling to move away from what is causing them angst. They think that the way to solve a problem is to think more about it! Round and round they go. Perfecting their problem. Nurturing it. Feeding it. Watering it. Wow - how did it get this big?
Problems – let’s explore a tool for solving them!
There is a tool I use and always recommend for solving issues. But first let’s recap on what tends to happen. The first set of questions I’m going to ask you to answer below, is a typical example of how things tend to be for many. This may reflect your current habits, and if you have a team I would certainly wager that this is what many of them do too.
Let me demonstrate...
First, find yourself somewhere where you won't be disturbed for a few minutes.
Think of a problem you have in the workplace. For this example choose a small problem, that's maybe been niggling away for a while (you can easily solve your big stuff later once you're familiar with the technique!)
Let's explore that problem. Ask yourself the following questions. Answer them in your head. Give yourself just a few seconds (7 - 10 seconds) on each question - your answers should be a gut reaction. Be honest with your answers too. If it helps, have someone read the questions to you.
1. What is your problem?
2. Why is it a problem?
3. Why do you have this problem?
4. What caused it?
5. What are your limitations in solving it?
6. Who's to blame?
7. Why haven't you solved it yet?
Most people with sales challenges (or any issue for that matter) will be asking themselves - and others - these very questions over and over again – and getting nowhere. Additionally there will be a build up of resentment as some of these questions can provoke an emotional reaction.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
Now when you've answered these seven questions ensure you have a quick change of scenery for a few seconds before the second stage of the exercise. Walk around the room, jump up and down, talk for a few seconds about something completely different, whatever you need to do to wipe the previous answers away.
Second set of questions
Now, taking the same problem answer the second set of questions below. Again, answer them in your head and allocate about 7 - 10 seconds each. Honesty and gut reactions again too please.
Here we go...
1. What do you want?
2. How do you want it to be?
3. What do you need to get it?
4. What resources do you already have that will help you get this outcome?
5. Where are you with regards to achieving it?
6. What's the next step you can take towards getting your outcome?
7. When will you take this step?
Notice how you felt at the end of this set of questions compared with at the end of the end of the first set. I'd wager a bet that after the initial set of questions you remained deeply entrenched in the problem, feeling pretty depressed about the whole thing - and crucially were no nearer to a solution. I'd also predict that after the second set of questions you were feeling much more positive about the situation and had some good ideas already about how to solve your problem.
So...thinking back to the problems you have...you now have a set of questions to help get your brain into solution-mode and away from problem-mode. If you manage a team I’d definitely let these questions loose on them too.
Until next time.
By Leigh Ashton, author of iSell, a speaker, trainer and coach, founder The Sales Consultancy She helps people incorporate psychology alongside technical selling skills – leading to positive changes in attitude, approach and sales results. Leigh has trained thousands of sales professionals and her findings remain consistent...even when outwardly confident, people often lack the inner confidence and practical strategies to achieve great sales results on a consistent basis. She works with sales teams, business owners, directors and managers to identify and eliminate psychological barriers within sales teams and the reasons or excuses used to rationalise their lack of consistently great sales.