“Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.”
- Jocko Willink
Jocko provides helpful insight for sales professionals and leaders in the final chapter of Extreme Ownership : Discipline Equals Freedom.
If you want the freedom of excellent outcomes, you need discipline. In sales, this means that if you want financial freedom, you need to establish discipline.
The extent to which you embrace discipline will determine your level of financial freedom - avoid discipline and you’ll cause frustration.
Let’s explore some ways that sales professionals and teams can integrate discipline to improve their freedom.
Discipline For Sales Professionals
Plan Your Time
Time is the most precious commodity of a sales professional. Top performers must be relentlessly disciplined in planning time. If you find yourself standing around wondering what you should be doing at any point during a given day, alarm bells should be ringing. There are only so many hours in a day. They must be used efficiently. Plan your day. If a client or prospect reschedules, know what you will plug into that open window.
I recommend sales professionals develop a weekend planning routine to review the previous week and set up the next week. During my weekend planning time, I grade myself on a scale from 1 to 10 on the key areas of my life. Then I make sure that I don’t get a poor score in any given area two weeks in a row.
Each morning, take the time to plan your day. I recommend you do this on paper. While I love digital calendars, I find that if I don’t plan my day on paper, I’m not mentally prepared. The discipline of planning on paper etches my goals and schedule in my mind.
Nothing in sales takes more discipline than prospecting -- and nothing is more critical to sales success. Make sure your plan includes blocks of time for prospecting. But don’t just block time. Set specific goals for each block of time. Do not stop until you hit your goal.
I recommend sales reps keep Friday afternoons open. Fluid schedules and hot opportunities can crowd out prospecting time. Here’s where you need discipline. Refuse to let yourself go home for the week until you’ve nailed at least 100% of your prospecting goal for the week.
Prepare For Meetings
Be disciplined in your preparation for meetings. This will likely mean getting up early and sometimes staying late. Set a goal for each meeting. Review your notes from the previous meeting. Come into every meeting ready to win.
Executing Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR's) with your key clients requires tremendous discipline. They are often hard to schedule. Don’t blow this off. These are the moments where you seal client loyalty and earn referrals. This is the difference between average reps and true professionals. Selling From the Heart author, Larry Levine, wanted his clients to feel the pain, knowing they’d be losing him if they ever changed vendors.
Discipline For Sales Teams
As a Navy SEAL operating in a war zone, Jocko realized quickly that “discipline was not only the most important quality for an individual but also for a team.” Being a sales leader is a hard job. It’s critical that you show the same discipline of planning as a sales rep in some key leadership areas.
Take the time to measure performance. Hold each rep accountable not only for results but also for the leading indicators. Reward your team for sales performance and also reward for hustle. Set the pace for discipline and achievement. One of the things I’ve appreciated the most about the Strategic Prospecting Systems we’re launching for our clients is that it allows them to get detailed metrics on prospecting sequences launched, calls made, and appointments set.
Meet with each of your reps monthly to review their performance against plan. Identify activity trends. Hold them accountable for the items of discipline above. Don’t just measure sales results, measure prospecting activity, closing ratios, and number of QBR’s.
Train AND Coach
No team of professionals achieves top performance without training and follow up coaching. Invest in sales training. Don’t stop there. Take the team to role play what you learned in sales meetings and one-on-ones.
Discipline equals freedom. The more we can foster discipline in ourselves and our teams the more freedom we will enjoy.
In what ways could you become more disciplined?