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Dishing Out A Strong Dose Of Reality

In uncertain times, it's easy for salespeople to play the 'blame game.' As a leader, your duty is to focus people on what they can control, to strip them of excuses they use as a 'loser's limp' to explain away their lack of achievement and to dish out a dose of reality that hits them between the eyes that they are accountable for their lack of success and for their lives, period. Use the following thoughts at your next meeting or during one-on-one coaching sessions to focus your people on results.

1. When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences. In other words, what they sow, they reap. And the crop of sales they are reaping today is a reflection of seeds they've sown in past days, weeks and months in the following areas: developing skills, setting and confirming appointments, follow-up with working customers, follow-up with sold customers, asking for referrals every chance they get and prospecting for new customers. You might also point out the seeds they're sowing in those areas today will show up in their harvest in coming weeks and months. It's time they stop blaming bad luck, bad managers, 'flaky' customers and inventory shortages, and create the discipline to do the right thing every day so they earn the right consequences. The secret to success lies in their daily routine; and today is giving them a good readout of how well they did yesterday. Tomorrow will give a good readout of how they do today. They must accept responsibility for how their behavior creates their consequences, or they will misdiagnose and mistreat every problem in their career and life.

2. If what they're doing is not working, they must change it. Hitting two buckets of balls instead of one will not improve your golf game until you fix your swing. Thus, if your people are working long and hard but not getting results, it may be time to change their 'swing'. Remember: if at first you don't succeed, find out why before you try again.

3. People cannot be allowed to pretend they are not failing when they are. Sweeping your people's problems under a rug with hopes they go away or fix themselves is delusion. Pretending there is no problem is easier because people can go on feeling like they're not losers even though they're not getting what they want, but you cannot allow your people to live in this state of denial. Push their problems to center stage and deal with them. You must get your people to deal with what is really happening, not with what they wish were happening.

4. Does the person have a real strategy, or are they just stumbling through life reacting and improvising, hoping it all works out? Goal setting without a strategy is hallucination. Your people need to get real and form a strategy for their personal and work life. Goals with strategies create focus and increase persistence. People who make it big in life end up somewhere on purpose; they don't leave it to chance. These people are the ones with bold goals and real plans to get there. Shake your people into reality and stop letting them bob along, hands in pockets, taking whatever comes their way all the while, whining about what they don't have.

Your people must know in no uncertain terms, where they stand. You owe this to them. Teach them to accept responsibility for their actions, results and their life. Failure is not an accident. Hold them accountable. Get in their face with tough love, and teach that in your workplace, passengers are not permitted, only drivers.

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