Recently, I was out to lunch with a friend who was wrapping up a very successful year. She had almost doubled sales year over year in a business where sales had been stagnant for several years. We talked about what had contributed to her success, and how she was feeling – Ready for a recharge break over the holidays was the short answer!

                  As we were getting ready to say goodbye, thinking about my own pending sales plan creation for 2019, I asked “So what’s your forecast for next year look like?” A slight look of worry came over her face as she said, “We’re still figuring that out, but the number is only going one way, of course.”

                  Here we are at the start of a new year, and for many the beginning of a new annual sales plan. The revenue meter is back at zero. You’ve done your SMART goal planning. Your forecast is Realistic AND it’s going to take WILLPOWER to achieve each of those quarterly stretch goals.  For example, having the willpower to keep doing the behaviors to fill your new business pipeline and the willpower to avoid declaring success too soon and failing to close some key deals. I emphasize “willpower” because it takes an ongoing controlled exertion to pull all the strands of successful selling together, from the first meeting to the winning presentation and on through implementation.

                  To understand more about how to sustain your willpower I have turned to an expert, Kelly McGonigal, author of “The Willpower Instinct.” I will spend this and the next few blogs referencing her work, particularly looking at what she has to offer sales people who need to maintain willpower even when motivation fails.  The first major intervention to sustain willpower has to do with some physiological solutions “small interventions with large outcomes”. They are all things you probably already know, but perhaps need to be reminded of their great value:

  • Get more sleep. Research shows that when we get less than six hours of sleep a night our brain is unable to recruit the parts of the brain that allow us to be our best selves. And, put simply, an energized brain helps you remember your goals and keeps you on track to accomplish them.
  • Meditate for ten minutes a day. Breath-based meditation helps to de-stress and has been shown to improve the quality and duration of sleep.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise helps improve activity in the part of your brain that is responsible for planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision-making and moderating social behavior.
  • Eat a plant based diet. There is a lot of evidence that sugar spikes throughout the day negatively impacts how the brain uses energy. Avoiding these spikes by eating a more plant based diet will help you sustain a more present and engaged self.

You don’t have to do all four to achieve improvement. Whatever you choose, research shows that a sustained effort will yield results within a couple of months.

In my following blogs, I’ll explore “Defensive Pessimism” and “Surfing the Urge” as a means to maintain willpower.

I wish you a successful and healthful year selling.