If you pay attention, you can find great sales advice right in the middle of an ordinary day — or even your new favorite TV show!
Last week, I was watching ZOO. If you haven't seen it, it's based on a James Patterson novel where the animals of the world have started waging violent attacks against people everywhere. Lions, birds, bats, dogs — they're all changing, rising up against our species.
Here's what stopped me in my tracks.
In the most recent episode, the veterinary pathologist (Mitch Morgan) had just failed to reverse the genetic mutation in a test dog. With the weight of the world resting on his shoulders, he falls apart.
This is his conversation with the safari director (Abraham Kenyatta).
Mitch: Sorry guys. It’s all my fault. I’m the one who said it would work. I wasn’t even half right.
Abraham: Now is not the time for self-pity. It didn’t work. Tell me why.
Mitch: Should I start with the fact that I’m not a geneticist. Or should I start with the fact that I’m a completely discredited scientist...
Abraham: That’s ancient history. Tell me why you failed TODAY.
(That’s when I really started paying attention.)
Mitch: I don’t know why. You tell me, genius. Maybe the mother cell was contaminated… but that’s highly unlikely. Maybe the cub's genes didn’t mutate naturally … but no way was it exposed to Radon. …If my hypothesis is correct, then maybe it’s the delivery system?
Abraham: The delivery system?
Mitch: Yes. The injection. Maybe the needle was contaminated. Or maybe the intramuscular injection didn’t make it out of the flank. Maybe we need to do it orally.
…. and then Mitch turns to Abraham and says, “Don’t think I don’t recognize what you just did for me.”
Did you catch what he said there? It was so profound I immediately hit rewind and ran to grab my notebook.
Tell me why you failed today.
I was totally blown away by the transition from “I’m a failure” to the exploration about possible causes for TODAY’s issue.
Why today's failure matters.
As an individual, we can use this strategy to focus in on the root causes of our sales failures.
As a sales leader, we leverage it to help our salespeople learn from their own mistakes. The focus on today gives us a sense of control over a difficult situation.
The focus on today turns the problem into a challenge — which our brain can’t resist.
The focus on today opens us to alternate possibilities as we mentally search our memories for potential solutions.
The focus on today gives us the positive energy to move forward.
Today changes everything.
Whenever I find myself in the middle of a mess that I’ve created, I will use it. And, whenever I can help other people with their messes, I’ll do it too.
I may even throw in additional questions if they’re stuck — to give them a broader range of options to consider.
- Why did you fail today?
- Could it have been your approach?
- How about the value they’d get from changing?
- What about the people involved in the decision process?
Get the picture? Just because you failed that day, you're not a failure. What failed was the approach you took that one day. Success might be just over the horizon.
As some who wants to help other salespeople succeed, using TODAY is an incredible tool.
I know it will change my behavior. Hopefully, you’ll find it just as useful too.