There is an old saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result."  According to this definition of behavior, sales people often perform as though they are insane.  I have often responded to the inquiry, "how are you doing?" with the response, "I'm in a comfortable rut."  In other words, I'm doing what I have always been doing and feel comfortable in the process.  There is nothing inherently wrong with comfort, however, comfort is the first stage of complacency and complacency is the beginning of mediocrity.

What better time than now to evaluate your sales performance and look for areas of improvement.  With the New Year almost here, you can put the past behind you and look to a new day of improved activity and enhanced performance.  Doing the same things over and over again in your sales process, without refinement and improved results, will never lead to the success you are capable of achieving.  What is it that you are doing and what are your expectations?  When was the last time you took a step backwards and analyzed your activities in relation to your sales results?  As you reflect upon this past year and plan for the next, take a few minutes to ponder five performance enhancing activities that will lift you from a pattern of complacency.

Activity number one:  Set goals.  Take time to determine what you want to accomplish in your sales career.  Be specific, believe, and step out of your comfort zone.  Just because you have never achieved a particular level of performance doesn't mean you can't, it only means you haven't achieved it yet.  With each goal, establish a number of steps necessary to achieve the goal.  These steps are the specific activities that must be accomplished to reach your goal.  These steps are the day-to-day and week-by-week actions necessary to move along the path of achievement.

Activity number two:  Plan and schedule your time.  Time is the most valuable commodity in the world.  Time is essential for success, wealth, happiness, family, and achievement in any form.  Time cannot be saved and must be used in the precise moment in order to have any value.  You have a choice every day as to how you use your time.  It can be used for value or waste, time doesn't care, it continues without regard to its use until it is gone.  If you want to truly break out of the shackles of complacency in your life, you need to control time, and the only way to control time is to manage it.  Begin each day with a personal and private planning session.  Identify what you want to accomplish for the day and always think in terms of your long-term goals.  If you are not striving to accomplish the day-to-day steps of your goals, they will never get done.  Certain things must be done each day if you are to achieve your goals.  If you don't plan, very little will ever actually be accomplished.  Daily planning will increase your achievement by as much as one hundred percent.

Activity number three:  Evaluate and improve your sales process.  What is it that you do, and what must be done in order to complete a typical average sale?  Think of your most successful sale.  What steps did you follow to make the sale?  Think of your activity in terms of a process.  Now, write down the process and commit yourself to doing those activities on a consistent basis to create a pattern of performance, which will become a road map for your sales success.  Most salespeople don't spend enough time prospecting, so make sure you include a healthy portion.  Remember, prospecting is not cold calling but rather the act of finding opportunities.  Use your current customer base as the foundation for your prospecting.  You can never follow-up too much.  National statistics indicate that it takes between five and seven contacts for a prospect to feel comfortable enough to make a purchasing decision.  However, most sales people follow-up only three to four times.

Activity number four:  Commit yourself to working harder and smarter than ever before.  Most sales people spend on average only four hours per day working on sales related activities.  They put eight hours on the time clock, but only half that time is spent focused on their sales.  Planning and scheduling each day will be a great help in working smarter.  This will help you be more aware of which activities need to be completed, how much time should be spent on each activity and when to do them.  Determining how much time to spend on each activity is a classic method of working smarter.  You should then work hard to complete the task within that amount of time.  Working hard requires focus and working smart requires doing the right activities at the right time.  Working hard and working smart both require effective daily planning.

Activity number five:  Discover a purpose in your life so compelling that you will be willing to commit to do the sales activities that less successful sales people are not willing to do. The story is told of a young man who discovered the common denominator of success.  He had a definite purpose in his life and it was definitely a sentimental and emotional one.  He wanted his son to go through college without having to work his way through as he had done.  He wanted to avoid for his little daughter the hardships that his own sister had faced in her childhood.  Also, he wanted his wife and the mother of his children to enjoy the luxuries and comforts, and even necessities that had been denied his own mother.  To accomplish this purpose, he was willing to form the habit of doing the things he didn't like to do in order to accomplish his purpose.