Self Delusion

By definition, only 20% are at the top of the team according to the 80/20 rule. If you surveyed the team, however and asked “are you one of the better reps?” 80% would say yes. If you asked people “are you above average in intelligence?” or “are you a better than average driver?” or “are you better than average looking?” here is what you will get. 80% will say yes. Statistically only half or 50% can be “above average.” Such is the self-delusion we all carry in us. We see what we want to see. We perceive a reality we want, not the one that exists.

This is neither “good” nor “bad.” It merely “is.”

If you ask a middling rep if he works “hard” he will of course say “yes.” Even if he goofs off, skips days, comes in late and leaves early. He won’t remember these inconvenient facts. He only wants to recall those few random hours where she makes an effort and sweats a little.

If you ask reps if they are good at sales, know how to close, listen and create a rapport with prospects, you will get the same story. When people follow this internal “program” they can’t learn. They can’t learn because they see nothing they are doing as wrong or needing improvement. They are not trainable. They are mired in the quicksand of mediocrity and will remain there, stuck forever.

When I first learned karate it was amazingly difficult. I would practice the various forms (kata) for hours each week. I finally imagined that I was getting proficient. I even dared to see myself as a future Bruce Lee.

During one memorable class my instructor (sensei), a fifth-degree black belt, came over and casually started pointing out a few things that were wrong in my static stance. 18 separate, distinct, and vitally important things that he saw I was doing wrong and that I was blissfully unaware of!

You can’t see what you can’t see.

If you want to see some absolutely mind-boggling displays of delusional behavior, tune into the wildly popular television program American Idol. Here it is glaringly obvious what the self-esteem movement in our schools has wrought. Generations of coddled kids that after many years of unearned praise, for even the most mundane act (here’s a gold star for putting you shirt on correctly Johnny, who is 16), think, as could be predicted by the most dimwitted in previous generations, that anything they do must be met with adoration. These kids are toast when, and if, they ever make it to the real world. Toast. Can you spell toast Johnny? Attaboy!!!

Your best bet is an expert teacher and coach who will assist you in discovering and uncovering your weaknesses, deficiencies, and flaws. Only then can you be taught. You will be motivated to fix your defects and can do so only if you are aware of them and can park your ego long enough to admit you own these defects.

You will owe this master more than you can ever repay, except perhaps by passing on the knowledge to a novice, or hundreds of novices, before you retire or die.

In addition to your “sensei” or perhaps instead of if you are not lucky enough to have one, you can practice the following mental “kata”:

Debriefing – After every presentation ask your self two questions. 1. What went well – did I do right? 2. What did not go well – could use improvement?

Congratulate Yourself – Well earned praise for all you are doing right. Keep doing those.

Ruthless Self Observation – Dissect every line and every prospect reaction. How you handled questions or objections. Can you see what went wrong? Detach from your ego and don’t emotionalize the process.

Objective Observer – If you don’t know what you are doing wrong, ask a fellow rep, a manager, or a paid coach for help. Then listen and never defend yourself (ego) or argue.
Commit To Change – Make this commitment or decide to fail.

Constant Improvement – If you make every presentation a little bit better than the last, you will inevitably master your sales process.

Final Ingredient – Now all you need do is work your ass off. Do as many presentations as possible. Each one better than the last. You will rise like a cork in water to the top. Probably past the 20% level, into the top 10%, and who knows, perhaps the top 1%.