Fighting the mind


Today I had a very busy day. During the day I had a couple of moments I felt the need to get a break and stop for a moment the apparently unstoppable flow of tasks that were piling up. When I am in a situation I need to properly organize and prioritize the tasks to do. I feel a strong need to find some kind of automated process that helps me organizing and concentrating on what really needs to be done. To give an example, potential customers ask to be contacted. I tend to start with developing a system that helps me to keep track of the requests I have to deal with, so I can see what is done, were a follow-up is needed and which are still left to be done In the past weeks I have been setting up a simple system that needs still some fine tuning. I have to be careful not to spend too much time on fine tuning the process, leaving the ‘real’ work to be done for later.

The founder of the company I work for has developed a strong sense for surviving and has a ‘do it now’ way of working. He is very clear he expects the same from the other team members and can be very pushy if he sees things are not getting done, no matter how busy you (think) you are. If on top of that he is not always consistent in his message like: “do it when you have some spare time today” and a little later:”when are you calling them, before 2012 I hope?”.

Not so long ago I would have my ego jumping in big time because I allowed myself to feel hurt and attacked. Now most of the times I see he’s got a point, maybe not always communicating all details but it should be my responsibility to evaluate the importance of the request. Here it gets more complex, since I feel I am already very busy and systematically ticking off the list of things to do. If something comes in between I tend to put it in the queue even before I value the importance. Even if I am given all elements to set the right priority on a task I might tend to ignore them with a: “not now, I am busy” kind of reaction. My job role as the commercial guy that can close deals is very dynamic and depending on the ‘right moment’ to close the deal. As if it is a magic moment (a moment of deception?) you need to grab quickly before the other changes his or her mind influenced by who knows what. This is what I think is the perception of the ultimate commercial deal by the other team members.

To me the sales moment is not magical but an agreement between parties when it is clear for both what the deal is about. I have been advised to use tools like making the potential customer feel he’s special and that we as the service provider might be hard to get. And when you feel you need some tools to close the deal you use discounts telling them you are just doing it for them.

Although the companies customers seem to be all very happy I see this approach as unfair and deceptive. The consequences might seem futile in this case but to me unnecessary. Until now I managed to close deals just making clear agreements and giving very little discount. I have no fear of not closing the deal when an agreement is not reached. I will use all my common sense to make sure the other person fully understands what the product can do for them but I will not go on if I see there is resistance or just when they understand the product is not what they are looking for. – Am I justifying my way of working here?

I also noticed I feel certain resistance to make specific phone calls. The more important they seem, the more reasons I come up with that justify a delay. I tried doing this kind of calls with no preparation what so ever and they went really fine. So, why am I looking for all kind of information I might need before making a call to probably find out I needed different information anyway? I need to stop this pattern that probably has some deep roots in my youth. I as a kid feared the phone and had a hard time if I had to call someone, even people I knew like class mates. Funny to know that later in my life I spent almost 7 years on the phone as a support agent in a call center.

Although the picture I am drawing here is not complete I am glad I start recognizing patterns and constructs and can work on addressing these.

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