The foundational attribute or skill necessary to succeed in any endeavor is self-discipline, and this is doubly true of sales. Self-discipline is the ability to keep the promises one makes to one’s self. It is impossible to keep one’s promises to others if you can’t keep the promises you make to yourself; in actuality, the promises you make to others really are promises you make to yourself.
I chose the image of a ringing alarm clock for this attribute or skill because it demonstrates self-discipline. The alarm clock is a useful metaphor for the commitment to rise early and get busy doing what needs to be done to succeed. Do you need to workout to be your best? Do you need to read something relevant to your work? Do you need to research your calls? Do you need to turn the television off and focus on self-development? When the alarm goes off, do you hit the snooze button or do you hit the ground running?
As to discipline and sales, I have witnessed the magic of disciplined sales people succeeding because of their discipline alone, despite having no natural sales attributes or abilities.They made their prospecting calls every day. They made their sales calls every day. They did what needed to be done every day without fail. Some of them were horrible sales people when in front of the prospect But, they were always in front of the prospect. They produced week after week; singles, doubles, and the occasional home run.
I have also had the displeasure of watching (and managing) sales people with massive natural talent fail only because they lacked self-discipline. Despite the ability to gain rapport instantly, being exceedingly attractive, and being able to discover ways to create value for prospects, they lacked the discipline to sit down and make their prospecting calls. They missed their activity quota every week. The were rarely in front of prospects. You know some of these reps; they have such great ability to sell, they sell their way into keeping their jobs despite abysmal performance (for awhile, anyway).
So, how do you develop self-discipline? The easy answer is you make commitments to yourself and keeping those commitments. Start by writing your commitments down, and then taking action to keep those commitments, no matter how large or how small. Your success depends upon it!