Burned out? Been there done that? Been to the rodeo one too many times? Your sales career “Jumped the Shark”? (Happy Days reference). Are you stuck in that rut of…Every Tuesday, I call on Joe, then Ed, then the feed store in Springfield? Wednesday is the coffee shop crew, then …
It happens to the best of us as an Ag sales career develops. You don’t plan for it. It just slowly happens. Why? Or How? There are many reasons but let’s focus on what to do when you realize it has happened to you.
Step 1: Recognize the situation. The first step in most major changes is to recognize that you have slipped into a rut. You are making great excuses for why you are in this rut. Like- I need to serve the customers I already have or I know what works and I’m doing it, why change? Or I have been down those roads before and they don’t lead to more sales, etc. Little by little, you become closed off to trying new things, calling on prospects or networking with new groups. You rationalize it in your mind by saying” I tried that before. That probably won’t lead to more sales” The Ag community is a fairly small community and sometimes we don’t branch out and do new things because we might be afraid of what our current network will think. “What would the Quarter Horse people think if I started working with the Dressage people?”
Step 2: Get Help. You don’t have to climb out of the rut all by yourself. Good places to get help are your supervisor, other sales people who have gone through the same thing (successfully or unsuccessfully). Ask them how they recognized it and how they changed or why they haven’t changed? Might I shamelessly promote hiring a coach? Having someone who understands your situation can provide an extra set of eyes and be of instant value.
Step 3: Step out of your comfort zone: Being in a rut is all about being comfortable. Sometimes we hide behind being busy. “I’m too busy to call on those prospects” “Tuesdays won’t work because I have 4 standing appointments already” Ask yourself, “Could I make just a small change and make time to do one new thing a week/day”?
- Make time and schedule it on your calendar to do something new.
- Challenge those sacred activities that you think you have to do. Time map your week and see what activities are loading you down. Like rearranging the furniture once in a while or spring cleaning, you have to throw out a few activities that aren’t adding value.
- Let your supervisor know that you are looking for something new. Many times this would come out at an annual review. The sales person had been keeping it to themselves and waited until their annual review to tell me. Don’t wait. Opportunities pop up at random times throughout the year. So, let him or her know what you want to do. If you don’t know exactly, tell them you want to try a few things before you settle on a new direction.
- Look for opportunities within your company to do something new: A new product line, a new market segment, portion off part of your territory so you can make time for something new.
- Do a ride along. If you want to find out what it’s really like to sell another product line or see what marketing does all day, ask to do a ride-along or sit-with. Many times we think we know what a person does. But you get a whole new understanding when we spend time with them in their daily life.
- Understand Reinvention
- It won’t happen overnight. Take time to try out a few directions before you set sail on a permanent change
- Realize you have been doing things a certain way for many years and you have become an expert at it and you are known for it within your work community. This new task or skill might put you back in the rookie status. You may not have the connections, knowledge or skills to master this new thing yet. You’re going to feel like sliding back to your comfort zone. Resist the temptation and remind yourself that you did this before and succeeded. You were new in your territory once before and mastered it. You can do it again.
- Don’t quit your day job – completely. If possible, try to keep your current role while trying out new areas. Sometimes you have to make a complete change in order to start a new venture. However, staying within your company, many times you can keep your current role and start to dip your toe into several different new roles before jumping all the way in. If it isn’t a fit, no problem. You haven’t wasted a ton of time or money. Try something else.
If you truly feel you have hit the wall in your current role and are stuck in a rut, realize it and start working your way out. There are numerous examples on TV, sports and in politics. A sports career can only last so long and we see new sportscasters every year who came off the field and are announcing. We see child stars who take years or decades off from acting, only to come back later in their career as a completely different type of character actor. You’re in good company. Start small if you have to but most of all, start!
To Schedule a Free 15-minute coaching session today, contact me directly at Greg@GregMartinelli.net
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