Knowledge Power: Self Knowledge Management
There are 3 types of knowledge that professional salespeople must have if they are ever to reach their potential for themselves and for their organizations they sell for.
People persuasion knowledge
Self knowledge management.
Most salespeople and managers alike will agree that product knowledge is essential for selling. In fact, the bulk of the dollars invested in training salespeople are typically invested in the area of product knowledge. Whilst the bulk of time and training dollars are invested in this area, in fact it is the other two areas of the knowledge triangle that bring home the sale. This is not to discount or disparage technical knowledge in any way. Yes it is important for selling, but it only makes up one leg of a three legged stool.
Over the next 3 articles we will unpack each of these three legs of the knowledge stool. So firstly let’s examine the most critical of these, “Self knowledge management”. This is often broadly explained as “attitude!”
Clean up your attitude and you’ll clean up your sales!
Your attitude sucks and your sales are a reflection of that!
Your negative attitude is like a virus!
As you will see, self management is much more than simply a good or bad attitude. It is a psychological term used to describe the process of achieving self responsibility.
“If you lack the iron and the fizz to take control of your own life, the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense. Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don’t be surprised what inappropriate port you find yourself docked.”
– Tom Robbins
With ever-increasing management pressure, growing competition and a rapidly changing marketplace, salespeople have to become more effective and productive than ever before. As a result, those salespeople who work smarter, judiciously using their time in the most financially and energy efficient way, give themselves a competitive edge. This means that if selling organizations want to outstrip and outsmart their competitors, they will need to either hire or train their salespeople to become more effective at managing both themselves and their time.
Self-management is not a new concept. Sustained top performance in all fields requires the management of one’s mind, emotions and time.
Self-management is actually a psychological term which is used to describe the process of achieving personal autonomy. The objective of self-management is to shift from supervision and control by others to self-supervision. In other words, self-management is the process by which we move from being managed and controlled by one’s boss, parent, coach, or employer to one’s own “self management” of our mind, emotions and our time. Some people seem to be born with strong self-management skills whilst others have to work to develop those self empowering skills. There are some adults who have lived, always being been told what to do, whether it by a teacher, parent, spouse, employer or someone else. Whilst these individuals may aspire to being self managed, the sad truth is that for the vast majority of them, self-management is somewhat overwhelming.
Self-management is all about taking control of your life. It entails both a positive mental attitude as well as positive actions that help you get on with living your life the way you want to. Whatever our goals in life we all need to solve problems, make decisions, assess our own progress, and manage our choices consciously.
The 3 keys to self-management
Self management requires the ability to self-monitor. The ability to be aware of one’s own behaviour and either change it or learn from it. For example, after behaving in a manner detrimental to ones goals, one may become immediately aware of what one is doing and promptly stop the dysfunctional behaviour before it escalates.
Self-evaluation is the second skill employed by those people who are able to self-manage. Here the individual will regularly reflect on how their behaviour is impacting on their goals.
Self-reinforcement refers to how one rewards one’s self for achieving the goals which were set. Whilst external rewards are effective as a means for driving behaviour change and achieving goals, the self managed individual will most often rely on their own internal reward system, such as knowing he/she performed well.
Looking at the skills and mindset of the individual who is able to self manage, can you as a leader of salespeople see why this skill is so vital? With ever shrinking resources, wider territories and greater expectations, you can no longer afford the luxury of carrying passengers. Neither can you afford to be spending your time coaching and trying to change dysfunctional selling behaviours over and over again. How often does it seem like either “Ground hog day” or primary school when you have to constantly repeat yourself and demand compliance? Don’t you just wish that your salespeople would be the “self-starters “you thought you had hired? Self management is the key to managing a sales team that operates “Above the line” in an environment of self responsibility, rather than in one of “Woe is me!” victim, victim.
As a professional salesperson, the first “Mission Critical” skill that must be mastered is the ability to effectively lay out a plan to accomplish their set objectives. Then they must be able to prioritize and manage their time in order to achieve that plan. Time is a salesperson’s most valuable asset. When a salesperson abuses their time, it shows up in lost sales and lost earnings. Planning, organizing and prioritizing sales activities is one of the greatest challenges facing both you, the sales leader and your salespeople in your efforts to achieve your sales goals.
Unfortunately, far too many salespeople waste their precious selling time on non-sales activities. They spend their days in the office “putting out fires,” or doing paperwork, administration and other non-core sales activities. Then they wonder why, come the end of the quarter, they have such skimpy pipelines, and why they consistently miss their sales budgets. Without an effective sales plan, salespeople will squander much of their time in the car travelling back and forth across their sales territories. They will waste their days calling on low value accounts, talking to people who are unqualified to make purchasing decisions.
No doubt you have had, or have come across, salespeople who regularly miss sales opportunities and their quotas. Many of these salespeople have mediocre sales results because they are disorganised in the planning and prioritisation of their time, which renders them ineffective. If there are thirty good selling hours a week and your sales people waste ten of them through poor planning and time management, then that reduces their impact by one third! No wonder many of them have to rely on luck to get them home at the end of the sales quarter.
Many salespeople experience the frustration and stress of feeling over-loaded, disorganised and out of balance, yet there are also many others who have somehow developed a better way of managing themselves and their work. The great news for those salespeople who are struggling with their self-management is that with direction and coaching, time and effort, time management is a skill that can be mastered.
The majority of salespeople waste their days in frantic activity achieving very little, because they are simply not focused on the right things. The highest achievers, both in sales and in other walks of life, from business to sport, from entertainment to public service, have all developed the skill of focusing on and getting the most important tasks done!
Time management is both a decision and a discipline. It is a decision on the part of those who lack the necessary skills, to get the training, the coaching and mentoring that they require in order to get into the driver’s seat. Then, as with developing any new skill, it takes discipline to implement the newly learned habits of pro-activity and focus. Time management is the art of ensuring that you “Keep the main thing, the main thing,” without getting caught up in all the extraneous issues that take you away from your goal.
As sales leader, you must “buddy up” those individuals who display poor time management and planning skills with someone who can model “best practice” both in their time and territory management. Alternatively, you can have them go out and buy the top five recommended books on the subject, or listen to time management CDs in their car, or even attend a time management seminar. At the very least, get them to set all their time pieces ten minutes fast and make a commitment to living by the new time.
Here’s a powerfully effective exercise for you to give your time-wayward individuals. Give them an assignment whereby they are to Google “Time Management,” and then every week they need to choose and implement two time management practices that they discovered. Have them do this for the next three months. Over the course of the next ninety days, it is possible for them to transform their personal management and possibly your whole business!
Time and personal management are core competencies of selling. The lack of these skills should no longer be tolerated. Just as you would have an expectation that a travelling salesperson has a valid driver’s license, so too you should expect that the people on your sales team are able to maximize their use of time. Managing oneself and one’s time is a mission-critical skill that must be mastered by each of your individual salespeople. Remember, as with any skill, goal setting, time management, planning and territory management can all be learned…with commitment, discipline, patience, training and effort.
As one of Australia’s leading authorities and coaches in sales management, Ian Segail has been involved in the coaching, training and development of sales managers and salespeople for over two decades.
Drawing on 25 years of experience in sales, sales management and leading an HR and training team, Ian brings a strong dose of fiscal reality and practicality to his works as a Sales Performance Coach.
Engaging directly with business owners and both novice and experienced sales managers alike, across a wide variety of industries and selling disciplines, the focus of Ian’s work is to transform sales results for companies by improving sales management practices.
Ian is the author of “Bulletproof Your Sales Team – The 5 Keys To Turbo-Boosting Your Sales Team’s Results” and a number of business articles, business reports and white papers including “The fish stinks from the head!” and “Why Sales Training Doesn’t Work.”
Ian has an insatiable hunger for studying selling and people management and has passionately pursued answers to the question “How come some people can sell and most can’t?”