There is a well-known formula for creating stories known as the “Hero’s Journey”: discovered by a comparative mythologist named Joseph Campbell and later adapted for writers as a practical guide for writing stories by Christopher Vogler.
I’m adapting it to personal and career development at Sales Journey. I have modified this formula to reflect the reality of starting or maintaining a career in sales, however, this formula can apply to anyone who wants to make ongoing progress in almost any endeavor.
Here is how to use this time tested and proven formula, the first step is to understand where you are on the map below:
SECTION ONE: Mindset
Your World (the Globe): Everyone starts here when they begin something new. They are usually comfortable in their current position, maybe a bit complacent, and while they enjoy the known routine of their work, they have a nagging feeling that they’re not living up to their full potential.
The Call: The call takes place when you are asked by your boss to assume more sales responsibilities, maybe you’re a charismatic engineer who would better serve the company by working directly with prospective customers. Alternatively, you might be new, fresh out of college and you’ve been offered a position in sales, but aren’t sure you know how to sell. Whatever the circumstance, your first reaction is usually to refuse the call.
Refusal: This is the reaction most people have to change. Anything new is uncertain and disrupts your sense of security. Also, this is when your self-limiting beliefs usually manifest (eg. “I’m not a people person”, “I can’t handle rejection”, “what will people think of me as a ‘sales’ person.”)
Inner Work: This is the where you really must rewrite your mental programming: further understand the responsibilities of your new position, get used to the idea of rejection, lost opportunities, and the possibility of failure. You might read a book about sales, talk to someone who is doing it successfully and begin to warm up to the decisive moment where you cross the threshold and accept the position.
The Mentor: Before you really commit to your new position, it usually requires the aid of a mentor. The mentor can be a book, a training course (like Sales Journey ), or a person. The mentor provides the clarity and confidence you need to cross the threshold into the New World of Sales.
SECTION TWO: Action
Fear & Discomfort: Now you’re in the The New World of Sales, picking up the phone scares you: what will you say? what if they don’t like you? what if they tell you to &$#& off? Oh no! You’re uncomfortable, you don’t have a routine or a comfort zone. You need to be proactive instead of reactive. You totally regret crossing the threshold, you’d like to go back, but it’s too late, you need to stick it out.
Tests & Trials: You feel the fear and do it anyway. Picking up the phone, saying the wrong thing, trying again, and again, and again. Then something happens, you realize that rejection doesn’t sting as bad as the “idea” of rejection. You find new mentors that help you discover practical tactics that enable you to control the conversation, setup appointments and, eventually, your manager starts letting you lead the presentations.
Allies & Enemies: You start making some sales and earn some valuable allies in your office. You make it onto the leaderboard, inevitably knocking someone else off. Some people start resenting your presence, your performance is making them look bad. You learn who wants you to succeed and who secretly (or overtly) wants you to fail. You offer to mentor new hires and let them shadow you.
Irresistible Challenge: You are now skilled at the basics and are starting to see the potential (and commission) of landing a huge account. You develop a list of a few dream customers and methodically make inroads.
Focused Action: You work late perfecting your presentation. You develop insights that will blow your prospects minds’. You engage multiple stakeholders, complete long RFPs, and practice your delivery, research your competition: even pretend to be someone else to hear their presentation. (In a movie, this would be the montage: an incredible amount of disciplined focused work, summed up quickly, with a peppy soundtrack and quick flashes of you working)
SECTION THREE: Leverage
The Boon: The boss personally pops the cork from the champagne bottle and pours you the first glass while patting you on the back, your colleagues are compelled to you give you high fives when they pass you in the office. You landed the biggest client ever and you’re feeling pretty darn good!
Boon Leveraged: High from your big win, your mentor comes into your office and tells you, that now is no time to rest, we need to work twice as hard. You’re confused and mentor explains that now that we have the biggest account ever, we need to leverage that to get more big clients, we need to capture more market share and we want you to lead the effort. Plus, all our competitors are going to see us as their main threat; they’re going to make this an uphill battle. You follow your mentor’s advice and for several years your company grows and you are well paid.
Boon Expires: You do what you’ve always done, and it’s not producing the same results. You’re confident that you don’t need to change, after all, you spearheaded sales growth for years. It must the market, the competition, the demand, etc.
Denial – Final Test: It takes you a few months and a productive, new sales hire to realize that you haven’t changed your presentation, your insights, and your delivery . . . That it is you. Your skills need updating, you need to develop new prospects, your style needs to adapt to the new realities of your market. You reluctantly conclude that you need to go to work on yourself.
SECTION FOUR: Insight
Reflection: What happened? Where did I go wrong? How do I recover from this slump? (Lots of introspective questions that force you to think and be objective)
Realization: You then realize that you’re comfortable, you’ve embraced a routine and you’re not changing, growing and learning anymore. You are exactly where you started.
Return: You decide to retool, rethink and restart your journey. You’ve mentored dozens of sales professionals, maybe it’s time to manage them too. Or, learn new skills, recreate your presentation, research and learn new insights that you can teach to prospective customers. You develop yourself and get ready to continue your journey, your Sales Journey.
Can you find yourself on this map?
Now that you know where you are, you know where you need to go. What’s so wonderfully simple about this guide, is that it allows you to make incremental and consistent progress. This progress will manifest in personal & professional growth, more sales, promotions, more income, more opportunity and more choices.
If you would like to learn more, please visit www.salesjourney.com to register for an upcoming Sales Journey Workshop where you will learn the process outlined above in detail as well as practical sales skills & tactics that will enable you to start or continue your Sales Journey.
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