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Sales Improvement Takes More Than Information

by Shawn Karol Sandy, on Apr 4, 2021 3:45:00 PM

There’s all this free sales advice out there.

So, why aren’t your sales team members killing it?

  • Why aren’t they soaking it up?
  • Why aren’t they studying YouTube, signing up for all the webinars, and buying all the freaking books?
  • Seriously, WHY?
  • Don’t they WANT to kill it? Don’t they WANT to be the best?

I know the answer.

Change, or Improvement, Takes More Than Information

Knowing things doesn’t always translate to behavior.

Behavior is largely our subconscious piloting our actions and takes more than new input to change our output.

We’re talking about improvement in sales or business, but we could be talking about health, fitness, relationships, career growth, or any subject you find in thousands of books on the internet (I would say shelves at the bookstore).

Those books make it sound easy, you just need motivation, self-discipline, and some coaching wisdom.

There are a few who have been able to change their outcomes by simply reading or researching their way to new behaviors … maybe. I’d bet there were a few more factors that contributed to change.

What 3 Factors really help us make improvements?

Motivation. Determination

Funny thing about motivation...we can run out. Everyone runs out. Some of us run out faster than others. Some of us have more factors that drain us of motivation: children, stress, commitments, expectations, background, family history, et cetera.

The good news is that motivation is a renewable resource. We can be motivated over and over and over again. We feel inspired, we start making changes, but then … life happens. Biology takes over. Cortisol wins. When motivation runs out, it’s easy to give up and return to our previously known, comfortable, and familiar systems.

We can draw on something deeper than the feel-good aspirations: Determination.

Determination is bigger, runs deeper than motivation. Determination is grit.
It’s where desire meets persistence.

Being determined outlasts motivation by acknowledging this truth: It will be hard, and you will fail, possibly many times.

Knowing you face hard work, failure, setbacks, and knowing you will probably tire on your journey to reach your goal is like a pilot light – determination keeps burning so that when you fuel it with your desire, motivation, and action, you don’t have to relight (or restart) each and every time.

Great goals need determination.

Self-Discipline. Success Mechanisms. 

Just like motivation runs out, so does our self-discipline. For those same reasons—life, work, kids, exhaustion, bad breaks, you name it. Our ability to remain steadfast and stick to new actions to develop new habits can’t rely on our self-discipline alone.

Rock climbers don’t climb, climb, climb, and then slip and fall all the way down the rockface. They anchor themselves after they achieve a new height, ensuring that their progress isn’t thrashed if they slip, tire, rest, or give up.

When self-discipline and motivation falter, they have anchored in success mechanisms to prevent having to start over back at square one.

Just like those little anchors in the rockface, success mechanisms are usually small things too and it’s often many small things that add up to a safety net. Example:

Goal: You need to spend the first hour of work making phone calls to prospects because you have more success before 8:30 am, you need to get into the office earlier.

Success mechanisms:

  • Getting to the office earlier means getting up earlier
  • Getting up earlier is achieved by going to bed earlier
  • Going to bed earlier means staying off your phone and social media
  • Staying off your phone means removing push notifications from your social apps

Your goal to get into the office earlier is actually a success mechanism tied to more effective prospecting goals.

It often takes multiple steps or multiple threads to build your success mechanisms.

If you oversleep one day or get sucked down a “meme-hole” on Facebook one day, you can go back to your anchors and pick back up at a small step back instead of falling all the way down.

Let your success mechanisms rescue you when you fall, get tired, or slip.

Coaching. Accountability.

It might not seem like there’s a big difference between these but as a practitioner, there is a HUGE difference between coaching and coaching with accountability.

I’ve had health coaches. They’ve given me great advice. I know exactly what to do, why, and how to achieve my health goals.

Do I do it? Nope. Not always. I run out of motivation. I’ve run out of self-discipline, and without those two, I’m certainly not going to be accountable to myself.

I do plenty of coaching. Much of it is without accountability, however. Coaching after Skills Building sessions. Continual coaching. But without the ability to hold someone accountable, coaching is limited to knowledge, insight, motivation, and cheerleading.


Accountability is the missing component. Some salespeople will show up to a coaching session and view it as a “therapy session” or “mentoring” but there are others that show up ready to talk about how they put the last session’s insights into action. That’s on them—good and bad (or indifferent).

Without the ability to tie coaching to performance accountability, the sales players have the “option” to show up and put coaching into action.

If it’s an option, it’s susceptible to lack of motivation and missing self-discipline.

Accountability can be consequences you set up like success mechanisms, it can be a partner or colleague that calls you out on being lazy or taking the easy way out. It can be a review of your activity or pipeline with your boss.

Being accountable is about doing the things we say we’re going to do. Accountability is having someone hold up a mirror to us to reflect our actions, behavior, and habits that are self-limiting.

We need accountability mirrors to help us see what we miss. Mirrors, anchors, pilot lights…

Changing our behavior takes more than worksheets, audiobooks, and inspiring mantras.

As adults, we’re deeply ingrained in our beliefs, feelings, thoughts, habits, and behaviors.

Trying to Change is Really Freaking Hard

To improve outcomes, we must move past the rah-rah stories we hear–to set up tangible systems that will work to enable change.

Are you ready to #GrowSmarter? Schedule a risk-free call with a Growth Guide today!

Topics:LeadershipProfessional DevelopmentSales Strategy

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