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Jeff Schmidt

Hope Is Not A Method

By Jeff Schmidt

Its always interesting to see the news of the quarterly earnings calls from publicly held broadcasters. Recently, one CEO told the analysts, The quarter didnt turn out the way we hoped. Dont get me wrong, the big companies arent the only ones that miss their expectations or dont get what they had hoped. They just have the unfortunate requirement to report it to the world.

We hope things will get better. We hope this client will buy. We hope we will hit our goal. We hope our cluster will make budget. We hope this new seller will make it. To use a line from my partner Chris Lytle, People are hooked on hopium. Im as positive a thinker as they come. I have a tremendous amount of hope in the future. Psychologists actually tell us that the number one cause of suicide is the loss of hope. Hope is a very positive emotion, a powerful motivator.

I have always told my teams, Hope is not a method. Hope is a great attitude, but it must be backed up with a plan. Hope is a positive expectancy. Hope with a plan can get dramatic results. Hope without action will more often than not result in disappointment.

What plans do you have in place to support your hope? What changes are you making to achieve different outcomes? Are you learning new things, trying new approaches, gaining more knowledge? In other words, are you taking action, or just filled with hope?

Sales professionals are on the frontlines of economic growth and prosperity in their communities. If you think about it, nothing happens until a sale is made. Sales are the grease that drive the economic engine, and as a salesperson, you have the ability to make things better, not just hope they get better.

So, to break it down:

We hope things will get better. What steps are you taking to ensure they get better? Are you talking to more prospects, are you providing greater value to your current clients? Are you increasing your own knowledge and expertise?

We hope this client will buy. Have you prepared a presentation that is specifically addressing the most important need of the client? Solving her most pressing problem? Have you given her a value proposition that makes not buying impossible?

We hope to hit our goal. Are you seeing enough people? Do you have enough business in your pipeline? Are you constantly looking for prospects and new business? Have you gone deeper into your current accounts looking for new profit centers and new ways to help?

We hope this new seller will make it. In the past, the standard was to give new sellers a rate card and a phone book and wish them good luck. Are you providing a comprehensive learning protocol to ensure their success? Have you paired new sellers with a successful seller in a mentor relationship? Do you have a repeatable sales process that your new sellers can follow to ensure success?

Were interested, call us next week/month/quarter. How many times have you heard that? The problem is a seller will come back to her sales manager and report that she had a great meeting with a client. After all, the client said he was interested. Let me suggest that the only thing that makes a meeting great is when you get the order and open the business relationship. A good meeting is one that results in an advance of the process, meaning a next step or appointment that is agreed upon and scheduled. Anything short of that and you leave the meeting with only hope.

True prospects will put you on their calendar for a next step. Information seekers will let (or make) you chase them down. Chris Lytle and I teach a technique called The Magic Question. The Magic Question to determine if you are working with a prospect or information seeker is: Are you willing to work with me on a calendar basis? Since they have never heard that question before, they are likely to give you an awkward look. You simply say, Youre very busy, Im very busy, rather than me trying to chase you down lets schedule an appointment to have our next conversation.

The amount of prospects you have on your calendar is the best indicator of your future success. Securing appointments is how you turn hope into success. Do you want to waste your time chasing down information seekers, or do you want to invest your time calling on true prospects? The Magic Question will help.

If youre looking for an easy way to focus on your professional development, Chris Lytle and I have partnered with Radio Ink for the Radio Sales Success Expander webinar series. Click here to find out more and sign up to participate live or on demand. Learning is a great way to support your hope with action.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc. You can reach Jeff at,

Twitter: @JeffreyASchmidt

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