I’m proud to announce that my latest book, Selling in Tough Times, has won the 2011 National Trophy for Business Books in the category of Tools & Methods in France.
Here’s a brief except of the book that I hope you find useful:
Steeling Yourself for Survival by Tom
Hopkins from Selling in Tough Times
In order to survive any challenge that negatively impacts your selling career, you need to follow the Boy Scout motto of “being prepared.” So, how do you prepare yourself for some unknown event that may pop up on the horizon?
You begin with a commitment to personal growth. Personal growth is a process of increasing your knowledge and effectiveness so you can serve more, earn more and contribute more to the betterment of yourself, your family and all of humankind. It demands an investment of time, effort and money. Keep in mind that if you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind.
Surround yourself with winners. Find other, like-minded, individuals and feed each other strategies for selling in these times, positive news, creative ideas and referral business. Be careful not to involve anyone in this process who doesn’t contribute. And don’t you be the one wanting the gain but not giving your own positive input to the others.
To keep yourself moving ahead, I recommend that you allocate five percent of your time to personal improvement. If you work a 40-hour week that’s two hours each week. It needn’t be a two-hour block of time, although many of my students find that extremely helpful. You could commit to half an hour each day. (Go ahead and do the math, it does add up to a little more than two hours a week that way but you do want to achieve long-term greatness, don’t you?)
What do you work on? That depends on you. Rate your skill level in the following areas that are critical to overall success:
- Time management
- Computer skills
- Writing, composition
- Verbal communication skills
- Dress and grooming
- Business etiquette
- Body language – reading and relaying
- Reading skills
- Product knowledge
- Paperwork/entry knowledge
- Handling your personal finances
If you find yourself getting nervous about your current level of expertise in any of these areas, don’t worry. The purpose of investing five percent of your time improving is to waylay those fears through education.
This educational experience need not be expensive or traditional (in case you’re like me and hated school). Many resources can be found at your local library. Forget the ads for credit cards. Having a library card is the single most powerful card you can carry in your wallet or purse.
Can there be any better investment than in your own personal growth? Think about it. I believe you’ll agree that anything else you might invest in can lose market value, be stolen or seized for taxes. On the other hand, the time you invest in
bettering yourself will remain with you for life, contributing throughout your career to your self-confidence and your ability to defeat whatever life sends against you.
As an addition to the immense volume of educational materials available at your local library, I recommend that you create an educational fund for yourself. Set aside five percent of all of your net earnings into a savings account for education. Then, when an opportunity for education above and beyond what you can find for free comes along, you’ll never have to say, “I can’t afford it.” You want to be able to take advantage of courses at your local community college or university. Some private technical schools offer excellent programs, for a fee, that can help your career immensely. Just like concerts, many excellent teachers bring seminars to your local area on topics specific to your industry or field. Watch for them. Schedule them into your calendar. Go and learn!
Psychotherapist Alan Loy McGinnis addresses this well. He said, “All of us have weaknesses. The trick is to determine which ones are improvable. Then get to work on those and forget about the rest.”
In analyzing your strengths and weaknesses in the categories listed above, there are bound to be some things that you find easier than others. Those that you find difficult or uncomfortable will likely make the biggest difference in your career once you educate yourself on them. Initially, you may feel some hesitation to begin work on these areas. That’s quite normal. We hesitate most to do that which we fear most. And fear is nothing more than a lack of knowledge.
Explore every route that takes you higher than you are today. Don’t shrink from what you fear most. Don’t fear admitting your weaknesses. Exalt your strengths in your mind. You’ll gain confidence for conquering those weaknesses and be prepared to do more than just survive.
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