Get the Free Report, 'Sales Success Through Correct Activity'!
Buy Steve's Book!
  • Sell When You See the Whites of Their Eyes!
    Sell When You See the Whites of Their Eyes!
    by Steve A Klein
Sell When You See The Whites Of Their Eyes!
Articles written by Steve A Klein
Steve A Klein Around the Web
Search This Site
About Steve A Klein

Steve A Klein, author of “Sell When You See the Whites of Their Eyes!” and CEO of the Professional Development Center, has developed a wide range of sales and personal development training. His training focuses on such key issues as relationship leadership, attitudes, team building, sales management, sales negotiation, tracking and prospecting, customer service, self (time)-management, communication skills, and cultural and behavior change.

Attitude Is The Key To Achieving Super Agent Status


by Steve A Klein


And in those days, behold, there came through the gates of the city a salesman from afar, and it came to pass as the day went by he sold plenty.

Whereupon the soothsayer made answer. "He of whom you speak is one hustler. He ariseth very early in the morning and goeth forth full of pep. He complaineth not, neither doth he know despair. He is arrayed in purple and fine linen, while ye go forth with pants unpressed.

"While ye gather here and say one to the other, 'Verily this is a terrible day to work,' he is already abroad. And when the eleventh hour cometh, he needeth no alibis. He knoweth his line and they that would stave him off, they give him orders. Men they say unto him 'nay' when he cometh in, yet when he goeth forth he hath their names on the line that is dotted.

"He taketh with him the two angels 'inspiration' and 'perspiration' and wortheth to beat hell. Verily I say unto you, go and do likewise.

-Author Unknown

A tremendous amount of money is spent by managers each year for meetings, clinics, seminars and other training procedures. Yet almost 80 percent of all productivity is produced by only 20 percent of your agents. Continuous training fails to close the gap. Most managers and agents have far more knowledge than they will ever use. What they lack is the motivation and desire to achieve their goals, not the ability to do the job.

A study was done to answer the question: Why do some salespeople out-perform others? Top salespeople were then asked: What has made you successful at sales? The overall answer was interesting.

The survey found that five percent of the agents attributed their success to product knowledge; another 10 percent to the sales skills they were taught and internalized; and an astounding 85 percent attributed their success to forming the right attitudes!

How do you instill the right attitudes in all of your agents if the training is not necessarily the answer? Following are five ideas that can stimulate and motivate your agents to achieve more and use the talents, abilities and knowledge they have already acquired to their greatest advantage.

Why do prospects buy from your agents? Is it because of their gift of gab? Do they just mesmerize them with their brilliant recitation of facts, figures and benefits? Or is it something more mysterious?

Actually, as we are all well aware, it's none of the above. Prospects buy the self-image of their agent. The better an agent's feeling of self-worth and self-confidence, and the stronger his/her self-image, the more effectively the agent will sell to clients' needs and wants. People buy from people, and they want to buy from people they believe and trust.

Agents have a tiny television screen on their forehead that prospects can see into. That's the self-image on the agent, and that's what the prospect is buying. But how do you help your agents develop this strong self-image? The answer is GOALS!

All highly successful people set and strive for goals. They know where they are going and plan how to get there. Clients want to do business with agents who know where they are going. Most individuals have no idea what direction to take or what they intend to do. That's why most people hate making decisions and spending money. But they love having decisions made for them and buying things. So the agent's job is to make the decision for the prospect to buy. And the prospect will buy when the agent has a strong self-image based on a strong set of goals.

What happens when an agent develops strong goals, a clear direction and communicates this picture to others? Consider Lee Iacocca. He had strong goals for Chrysler and he wasn't afraid to communicate those goals to others because of the strong commitment he had to his plan.

How about John Kennedy? His major goal was to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Both Kennedy and Iacocca had strong goals and knew where they were going. They also had an important ingredient that grew out of their strong commitment to their goals - charisma. People like being around charismatic people, people who know where they are going and are sure they will get there.

Great leaders are tremendously charismatic and have a great self-image based on believable goals that they have set for themselves. They believe in themselves and in what they want and will make what they want happen. Agents and managers can move mountains with this same level of belief and a strong goals program.

How do you help your agents develop strong goals, charisma and leadership skills? Use the "Salt Theory."

You've heard the expression, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." That's the theory that most managers use as they work with agents. In actuality, you can add one more peice to that phrase "...unless you can make them awfully damn thirsty!"

Most managers have no idea how to nurture strong motivation in their agents. Everyone wants something or some things. It's the manager's job to find out exactly what motivates each individual agent, uncovering those motivations that may be deeply hidden.

The job of an agent is to uncover the client's motivations - to find their hot button. Agents accomplish this be asking questions. In this way, the agent can help paint a picture of what the client wants. that's what people buy - what they see and believe.

Now let's transfer this to the job of a manager. A manager must spend time with agents to uncover their needs and wants and to help them develop to their full potential. Managers are "potential developers." But most managers approach developing agent potential incorrectly.

When an agent approaches a manager with a problem - let's say the inability to close the sale - many managers will address the problem by working on closing skills. Once the manager thinks that is fixed, then he helps the agent increase selling activity to handle more closes. Finally, the manager works with the agent to develop the right attitudes for effective closing.

Managers should work this process in reverse. Assuming a closing problem, managers should begin to check the agent's attitude first. Almost every problem associated with selling has to do with habits of thinking, or attitudes. Only after a manager helps the agent understand how their thinking is creating unneccesary blocks should he move on to the next step, activity.

Generally, agents know more than they apply when it comes to sales skills. It's really the attitude that they have about the skills or the product that keeps them from seeing the people and selling correctly. But again, once that attitude is adjusted (and this sometimes is a daily process with your agents), then it's just a matter of increasing the agent's activity for the skill to be internalized.

How does an agent learn to book appointments, make presentations, or close a sale? The agent learns by doing these things as often as possible and as close together as possible. Have your agents ask for the order a thousand times, and they'll learn how to close. They don't learn how to close from waiting to get the right prospect, at the right time, with enough money, and who wants to buy insurance today.

As the manager, you must get your agents to focus on what is important (their goals, what they want to achieve) instead of what is urgent (brush fires that occur on a daily basis).

Because of a lack of goals, many agents, and even managers, are motivated more by what is urgent than be what is important. Urgent tasks tend to consume the day, so that by the end of the day many tasks have been completed, but no movement in any specific direction has occured.

Individuals can only be motivated by what is important through the development of a strong goals program. Important tasks keep agents on track, no matter what is happening, and keep agents focused on results rather than methods.

Too many agents and managers are so task-oriented that they keep doing the same things the same way every day, hoping against hope that what they are doing will bring them different and better results. In reality, if they would focus on their goals - what is important, not what is urgent - they would keep on track, albeit experiencing a little pain, and accomplish enough of the right tasks for success.

Most agent have good intentions about accomplishing as many important items as they can each day. In this context, important refers to goals, objectives and tasks that will move agents toward success. But if they are not focused on the important items within a plan and the deadlines and action steps necessary to keep them on track, then what is urgent keeps them going around in circles.

For example, you've planned your day the evening before with all the important items that need to be accomplished tomorrow including your appointments and goals. You arise with full anticipation of hitting the ground running on your "to do" list. But since you haven't made a commitment to your plan, and you haven't factored urgent items into the equation, something quickly gets you off course. (Urgent refers to whatever comes up that needs your immediate attention, such as a client calling with a major question or problem, an agent walking in your door with an emergency, or a family crisis.)

"Course" is an excellent term to describe the plan for the day. A jet taking off from New York City to Los Angeles will be off course 90 percent of the time. But since the pilot is continually self-correcting, he keeps the plane on course and stays focused on the important matters that may arise.

If you focus daily on what is urgent, you're spinning in circles without any growth - always fighting fires. Your important tasks become less and less clear, until they fade from memory, with only a slight hope of ever being accomplished.

If the focus is on the important agenda, however, while dealing with whatever is urgent, your agents are growing as their goals and plans move them to a higher plateau.

Make sure your agents have a game plan. If they can measure it, they can manage it! Have your agents keep score of their daily activities and then let them reward themselves based on correct, consistent, daily activity, rather than results.

Let your agents play the game and control their own results by controlling their own activity. In every professional and amateur sport, athletes keep score. Salespeople generally have no idea how to develop a daily plan to organize their sales activities. To help them do this, use an activity checklist.

The checklist we recommend is called CCDA - correct, consistent, daily activity. Agents need a tracking system for the high activity required to make sales. Our system is based on the 80/20 formula: 80 percent of the things you do are accomplished in 20 percent of the time. If your agents can isolate the activities that are most important and spend more time doing them, they will accomplish more and realize a higher payoff.

CCDA prioritizes and applies a point system to the high-payoff activities that need to be done on a regular basis. for example:
Sale: 100 points
Presentation: 25 points
Appointment booked: 10 points
New lead: 5 points
New contact: 1 point

In this example, the daily goal/commitment for an agent is to reach 200 points. Agents need to make an absolute commitment to achieving this goal daily. Winners keep track of results, losers keep track of reasons! The focus is on activity, which is controllable, rather than on sales (results), which are not. When focus is on the correct activity necessary to reach the sales goals, then the agent's mind is directed toward what is important and necessary to achieve the results, rather than just the results.

The CCDA checklist apportions fewer points to those activities that agents have control over. Thus to achieve the daily goal, agents must maintain high activity in the areas over which they have control.

Most agents consider the day a success only when a sale is made. In many sales careers, a daily sale is not a normal occurrence; or, if it is, the agent considers himself a failure if there isn't a sale. More people don't buy from salespeople than do, so by focusing on daily activity your agents will achieve the intended results.

For the highly motivated agent, add a "bonus day" to the CCDA. When 300 points are achieved in one day, have the agent reward himself from his "want" list. Catalogs are a great list source. Agents should write down what they want in the $25 to $100 price range. These items are generally items they want but don't need - in other words, items that can motivate. This idea also helps solidify agent commitment. When there is something of value that an agent wants this week, the bonus serves as the target and motivation for achieving it.

It's all right to set a goal and do everything you can to achieve it, yet possibly just miss it. It's also all right to achieve the goal by working on the activity and accomplishing it. But it's not all right to set a goal and passively work toward it. That's setting up the habits of failure. So make sure your agents do not go home until their activity is achieved.

Tracking sales activity on a point system provides feedback to the agent. Feedback corrects the agent's course toward goals. To help improve the performance of your agents, increase their feedback. The more you work with your agents on where they've been, the more effective they're going to be in increasing their results. Help them realize that this is a self-competition. They can't compete with somebody else because they can't control the other agent. They have control over only themselves.

Have agents keep a list of their best days, their best weeks and their best months in all activity categories. A number watched does what you want it to do. If they want to improve their closing skills, have them track their closing average. Whatever they track and focus on will improve. If your agents know where they are at all time they will become more effective. They have to know where they are starting from to get to where they want to go.

Winners are prepared and prepare ahead of time. Winners have a positive expectancy to win. They believe in advance that they are going to make it happen. Winners are specific and positive about their winning. They accept personal responsibility for their actions- "It's my fault and no one else's!" They pay the price willingly because they know it's a bargain. Finally, winners are goal-setters.

In the words of Victor Frankl, "The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitudes in any given set of circumstances." Help your agents set their goals, work with them on developing the courage to act on their goals, and them watch your agents achieve super results.

And in that city were they that were the order takers and they that spent their days in adding to the alibi sheets. Mightily were they astonished. They said one to the other, "How doth he getteth away with it?" And it came to pass that many were gathered in the back office, and a soothsayer came among them. And he was one wise guy. And they spoke and questioned him saying, "How is it that this stranger is acommplisheth the impossible?"

(This article may be re-published with credit to the author.)