Whatever You’re Thinking, Think Bigger.
–Tony Hsieh, entrepreneur
You’ve probably heard the expression that “Life is a self-fulfilling prophesy.” Nowhere is that more immediately apparent than in the world of commission sales. As you look around the company or industry you work in, I’ll bet it’s true that some reps, the top producers, are making two, three or even four times more than other reps selling the exact same product or service? Have you ever asked yourself why that is?
I sure did. My moment of clarity came one day when I grew sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had just lost a big sale, and suddenly I didn’t have spending money for the weekend. As I looked around at the top three producers, I saw their expensive suites, and I saw their nice cars in the parking lot. They were selling the same thing I was, but my results were totally different. I wondered what I was doing wrong.
At that moment, I made a commitment that day to do whatever I had to do to succeed. Within 90 days I went from one of the bottom producers to the top out of 25 reps. As soon as I was handed the biggest paycheck I had ever earned, I went back to my desk and wondered just what the limit on my income could be at that job. Looking at what others had been earning for over a year, I set a new goal of income for myself – a big one.
By the end of that year, I had reached that goal. As I lay on a lounge chair in Maui, Hi (a bonus from the company!), I set an even bigger goal for income in that next year. By the end of that year, I hit it again! The following year, I had bigger income goals, but I knew I needed more opportunity, so I left that company and became a vice president of sales with a new firm. I hit my goal again. Suddenly life became very open to me.
I have learned to be a big believer in visualization and affirmations, and over the years I have proved to myself that whatever I think is possible becomes possible. But I have also learned that it can become a limit. Rarely do I exceed my goals, rather, I achieve them. And that’s why I love today’s quote. I read something similar once that has become my new mantra:
“Imagine better than the best you know.”
What I love about this quote is that whenever I finish goal setting for the year or the quarter, or the month, I ask myself: what would happen if I imagined even better? What would be even more exciting and fulfilling? What would my life be like if I accomplished something more?
And once I go beyond what I think is possible, I look for evidence of someone else achieving it. I always find examples of people or organizations who have higher goals than I do, and this always inspires me to dream bigger.
I do believe life is a self-fulfilling prophesy, and this leads me to another quote I think often about: “Most people don’t set goals to high and miss, they set them too low and hit.”
So today, I constantly challenge myself to ask “what if?” This helps me raise the limits of what I think are possible, and this allows me to keep hitting bigger and better goals.
Now granted, there are other variables at play. One of the most important is, of course, skill and technique level. Top producers consistently practice better selling habits and better sales techniques. But you can learn and practice these, too. They tend to work harder, but, again, you can do that.
They put in the time, energy and money required to perfect their craft. But the good news for everyone else, is that these techniques and habits can be learned by anyone willing to put in the same time and effort.
Years ago, I heard a sales trainer say that the great thing about sales, especially commission sales, is that you are the boss. Think about it: the company you work for pays all the bills – they pay the phone, office space, pay the support staff, get the leads, etc. All you have to do is determine the amount of money you want to make. The great thing about sales is if you want to get a raise, then you can give yourself one – close more sales.
After I applied myself and mastered the craft of sales, in other words, put in the time to learn how to make a connection, build rapport, qualify leads, handle objections and stalls, etc., I realized that there was another component to sales: the mental part. What I realized is that what separated me from big dollar producers wasn’t my skill set any longer, but rather, what I expected of myself.
Someone once said that the world (and sales) is like a vast ocean: some people go to it with a teaspoon, others a cup, and others a dump truck. How much you take out of the ocean is determined by the container you take to it. It’s the same in sales. What’s the difference between someone making a million dollar a year in commissions and someone making $5,000 a year? Their expectation level.
Think about it: If you were to take a million dollar producer from one company and put him or her in another, how do you think they would do? First, they would make sure a million dollars in commissions was possible in that job or industry, and then they would generate it. But the same is true with the $5,000 producer. Put that person in the same job or industry, and they’ll average about $5,000 in commissions. I’m sure you’ve seen this happen…
What I’ve found to be true in sales – and in life – is that you get what you expect. And the true way to get more – sales, commissions, income – is to believe it’s possible, and then truly expect it.