Thursday, June 9, 2011

812 Reasons I am under construction.

Yesterday was a rather intense day.  I got to hash out my strengths, weaknesses, and such with both an esteemed sales consultant and one of my product reps.  So, after being built up and torn down multiple times in one day paired with financial/professional worries and general road trip strain, by the time I got home I just couldn't brain anymore.

Having had a 4 hour drive back and a relatively sleepless night, I've had some time to obsess over my faults and gotten a fresh perspective what I do well.  But, in typical Jennifer fashion, I'd rather focus on the negative so I'm currently processing the criticism - once I've come to terms with it and begun making progress towards correcting them then I'll be able to look at the positives and enjoy the fact that at least there are a couple of things out there I'm doing right.

Most of the feedback I get about myself is either glowing praise (from friends, company representatives/other agents, and clients) or harsh criticism.  Now, I come from a hypercritical family so I don't take criticism very well - I take it very personally and it destroys what minute level of self esteem I may have.  Now, the two people I talked to yesterday had constructive criticism - it wasn't meant to be hurtful or insulting and it was at my request for my own personal growth and improvement.  So, despite wanting to make excuses and defend myself. I did actually listen and take these things to heart.  Of course on the way back I was talking to 'The Boyfriend' and he decided to jump on the criticism bandwagon too.  His wasn't as much constructive as much as it was deprecating and insulting though.  Which made me realize - my professional faults are very much carrying over into my personal life.  So it's going to be a war on two fronts to retrain myself.

Well, I did a lot of ruminating on what the sales consultant had to say and have been formulating my game plan. 

I’m gonna ramble here for a moment so feel free to stop reading now.

I did a brief inventory of my bookshelves and home and realized that I only had 1 book that was strictly about sales.  Now, I have a plethora of books about interpersonal communication, neurolinquistic programming, and conflict resolution – including my Dale Carnegie books and Napoleon Hill; but only one damn book about sales.  I own more books about winemaking that I do once a year and I can’t even sell but only one book about my profession that is supposed to be paying my bills.  Hell, I have 3 books about CLEANING.  Yes, 3 books about cleaning. 3 books about coffee and 1 about caffeine. I have an entire shelf of just cookbooks.  But the only book on sales that I owned was one that Dad had me order for him, he took a glance at it and said it was the same rehashed shit he already knew, and then told me to read it.

I didn’t.

So, why is it that I read every article I can find, hoard brochures and product literature, and obsess about knowing my products inside and out, but yet I do nothing to improve my skills as a salesperson?  I've gotten lazy.  Salesmanship comes easily to me so I've not done anything to really train and hone my skills as a salesperson.  But, I want to take it to the next level - not just training my agents on the product but training them on how to be fantastic salespeople.  So why have I not put that same level of time, effort, and dedication into working on myself? 

I'm an incredible singer.  But I couldn't give voice lessons - I don't know how to explain to someone else how to improve their voice.  It's just something that I do that I do well and comes easily to me.  Therefore, I don't even attempt to teach others.  Why should sales be any different?

I've trained coworkers before - but showing someone effective ways of demonstrating the features of a pair of sunglasses or what questions to ask to figure out what kind of coffee someone will enjoy isn't the same thing as teaching someone how to walk into the house of a total stranger and go over their health, their wealth, and their needs to determine what type of health plan is their best fit and how to build a dedicated, lasting customer service relationship with that client. 

I just kind of assumed that sales manager was the next logical step up from being a salesman.  It seemed logical that moving forward would mean moving in that direction.  But, you've gotta dress for the job you want, not the job you got; and I need to do my own self-motivated training if I want to get there. 

Things I learned:

1. Listen
2. Slow Down
3. You can't be good at everything.
4. Focus on what you are excited about, not what you could force yourself to be excited about.
5. Don't get arrested or run away from the cops.
6. Find out who the right person is.
7. Be consistent.
8. Don't bullshit.
9. Hire the right talent.
10. Don't get knocked up.
11. It's not what you've done, it's what you can do better.
12. Professional Cat Snuggler is not a job.
13. The coach stays on the sidelines.  If things aren't getting done right, he can't just throw on a helmet and put himself in the game. Neither can you.
14. Just be on time.
812. Don't look down your cohosts' blouse on national television.

So, I've got a lot of work to do.  Work that isn't going to pay off immediately.  Work that is going to be double plus hard because it is working on myself.  So, I need to tear down some old ideas and rebuild faster, better, and stronger.

And, if all else fails, at least I can rest assured of the fact that I do make a damn good cup of coffee.

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