A recent interaction with a seminar participant reminded me of the importance that any of us in a sales position keep a proper perspective.
While I was sharing a few ideas about engaging customers who really have no reason in the world to speak with you, a young man offered his thoughts. He said, "Well, here's the problem. We spend our time and energy talking to people about things like refinancing a loan or moving into a better account... and then they go to their current bank and get that deal out of them."
When he said that, it seemed about half of the folks in the audience nodded in agreement.
I paused and asked him if that happens "a lot." He sort of mumbled, "Well...maybe not a lot...but…"
I smiled at the folks who were part of the “hallelujah chorus” and asked if any of them had their own similar examples to share. None really could.
I then asked the young man if he might be thinking of one specific experience that really made him angry. I told him that I bet he could remember and share with the class verbatim conversations he had with that particular customer.
He chuckled and said, "I still remember the exact amount I was going to save that guy on his payments." The rest of the class laughed as well.
I told him that it was human nature to give a little too much weight to individual incidents that leave us aggravated or discouraged. But human interactions don't always follow our desired scripts.
Engineers can tell you exactly what the results will be when you exert a known amount of effort (force) on a known and predictable object.
That's not the world we live in. Sometimes we do everything right. We put in all the effort that should (or at least could) produce a desired result... only to have these unknown and unpredictable objects called "humans" surprise us.
But they also surprise us to the positive side as well. Most of us can share stories of great customers and business opportunities that came to us unexpectedly or times in which we thought a customer was gone, only to have him return later.
We won't win them all. But we won't lose them all either. If you're going to dwell on past setbacks, try to dwell a little on past victories as well.
You'll be more likely to repeat the behaviors that brought those victories about.
And you'll smile more.
A website I frequent printed a list of the Top 10 New Year resolutions that folks make each year. None are a surprise.
From spending more quality time with family to getting in shape to quitting various vices, they are all things that you'd suspect would lead to a happier and healthier life.
Something that dawned on me while reading the list, however, was that none of the top resolutions were work-related. Don't get me wrong. I'm definitely not saying that our jobs are more important than our personal lives and our families.
And I don't underestimate the impact that a person improving aspects of his personal life has on his professional life as well.
But if you think about it, most of us spend more time each week doing our jobs (whatever they are) than just about any other thing we do when we're not sleeping. Is it even arguable that our success levels at work greatly influence our mindsets away from it?
Or that the relationships we have (by choice or not) with others in the workplace tend to affect our moods and relationships away from work?
How many rants were your loved ones treated to in 2011 about bosses or coworkers who made you angry or depressed? Maybe we try to spare them from those rants in 2012? Just saying.
What simple resolutions can most of us make that might actually impact our work relationships and/or attitudes?
One of my personal favorites is taken from a quote credited to Will Rogers: "Never miss a good chance to shut up." Just because a smart or snarky thought about someone or something comes to your mind doesn't mean it needs to be given access to your vocal chords. (I struggle mightily with that one as well.)
How about resolving to visit at least one new business you've never stepped foot into each month? Most of us have scores of such places along our regular commutes.
Think about how many of your best customer relationships (and friendships) originated through "chance meetings." Increase those chances by walking into a few new places.
Perhaps we can resolve to stop now and then to appreciate that we actually have jobs to complain about. There are far too many folks who would love nothing more than to have some of the "problems" we are lucky enough to deal with each day.
Remembering that may be the best resolution of all.