In the early ’90s, my first job out of law school had me selling legal research at Westlaw, where I was trained by Mike Bosworth, a solutions selling expert. He taught me that a good salesperson needs to have two important characteristics: empathy and ego.
I believe that this approach is outdated, as ego and empathy are related in my view, and this formula certainly needs to be upgraded. There’s another important factor to be added that Bosworth did not consider when it comes to achievement in business: time.
There are two things that often get in our way when it comes to sales, business, or life: our perception of self (our ego) and our perception of time.
Leggo my ego
The ego has illusionary needs, which can create a waste of your time and energy. The ego also has the need to be right or to be offended. It can cause you to feel a need to be separate, inferior or superior. Ego can cause fear, guilt or shame. It will have you searching for recognition over achievement.
These needs cause you to react in inefficient or ineffective ways. This is why it’s necessary to utilize the following tools that will counteract your ego:
- Gratitude gives us perspective.
- Empathy brings forgiveness for ourselves and others.
- Accountability provides control over everything that’s attracted to our lives.
- Effective communication lets us draw upon inspiration and share it with others.
When it comes to communication, there are two types of people: One type manipulates, and the other inspires. What’s the difference between the two? Ego.
Ego can hamper any type of relationship, from business to personal, so use those four tools to keep it in check.
Time, activity and productivity
The missing component in my mentor’s sales philosophy was a perception or understanding of time.
I’m sure you’re familiar with this phrase: “Time equals money.” I believe that the way we utilize time is actually what equals money. There’s no such thing as linear time. Like ego, it’s an illusion.
Time in business is directly related to two things: your productivity and your accessibility.
Making optimal use of your time allows you to be productive. It also allows you to be accessible, to be of service. Understanding time pushes you to ask for help when you need it (which saves you time), or to pitch in and help others when necessary (which saves them time).
The best way to “bend” or maximize time is to be a student of your calendar. Now, most people think this simply means you need to look at your calendar at least twice a day. But, no matter how many times you check your calendar, if you’re a busy person, you’re going to forget when things are scheduled, or what events are taking place.
Study your calendar both in the morning and at night. Ponder efficiencies and potential problems, and prepare to make adjustments.
You’ll see that your productivity changes and you become aware of new opportunities that exist and now are accessible to you. Equally important, you’ll discover new ways to save time.
In order to instill this strategy in my team, every morning I have a Hill Street Blues meeting (a police “roll call” briefing, for those who are too young to get the reference) where I go through my calendar and ask questions to ensure my employees are students of their calendar as well as the company agenda. This creates a collective belief in accessibility and leads the team to be more effective, efficient and statistically successful.
If I can, I do it, no matter how annoying it may be to others. “Do It Now” is a remedy for procrastination. It tends to take you twice as much time to finish a task if you don’t start right away. And the more you put it off, the less successful you tend to be in the end.
One example of this is email. If I can respond to an important (key word) email shortly after it comes in, I do it now. That way I don’t find myself swamped, overwhelmed and feeling begrudged, at the end of the day when I’m ready to go home, by a slew of emails that have accumulated.
No traps from ego or time
If you understand the traps of your ego and combat them with the tools of gratitude, empathy, accountability and effective communication you’ll soon be seeing success in both business and your personal life.
Also focus on your perception of time, especially as it relates to productivity and accessibility. Learn to “bend time” by being a student of your calendar and practicing the “Do It Now” strategy every day.
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