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Success Rituals!

We live in a country that has a million rituals and superstitions – in every walk of life people propitiate the Gods and Omens before embarking on any activity; when expectations are met they say, “Thank you God!” and every failure is accepted with a, “He says it isn’t my time yet”.

I am sure many of you follow rituals before, during and after Sales visits or any other job – not necessarily religious but repetitive, quirky habits which may seem absurd to a third person. Let me explain.

Sportsmen are very superstitious – one player believes that playing with the “lucky” racquet got her the win or and another is sure that carrying a kerchief of certain colour brings good luck. It is not limited to on-field activities alone, even spectators have such beliefs. When the game is going in their favour nobody moves from the seats to ensure that the luck stays with their team. During a recent cricket match between India and England Virender Sehwag had to watch the tense closing stages flat out on a table because his friends wouldn’t permit him to ruin their luck by getting up.

Sales Professionals too have their lucky shirts, shoes, accessories and pens. They think it is that piece of their accoutrement or equipment that brings them luck. Some others need their Portfolio Bag or Work Area arranged in their own way. While I don’t have such beliefs I am not going to discourage such practices. So long as it does not involve something extreme like sacrificing goats or running across a busy street it’s okay to have a ritual or a superstition in order to get a win.

Just make sure that it is not harmful to any person or creature and that it’s legal.

I propose that you need to weed out all those rituals that make you less efficient and kill productivity.

–          There are people who believe that the day has to be started by checking emails for an hour. It’s not religious, but it’s a ritual and a wasteful one.

–          Going through a Sales Script like a parrot could be another ritual. Imagine this scenario: Half way through a Sales Conversation the prospect says:“I think I have heard enough. Where should I sign? And you tell him: “No, Sir! I still have a few questions to ask. You can sign after answering them.” Hello!

–          You believe that only certain official in an organisation can provide you with useful information or you seek support only from one member of your back-office team. These are rituals too. You need to develop a second interface in order to ensure continuity in the absence of your first option.

I can go on, but you know where I am going.

Since we are ritual-bound creatures why don’t we develop some good practices that can then be our Success Rituals?

–          Never make an important Sales Visit without completing the research on the Account.

–         Use a checklist to confirm that every step is followed every time!

–         Prospect with religious fervor so that there is never again the fear of a lean month.

–         Your plan is reviewed and updated on time, every time – there is Zero lapse on that.

–         As Sales Manager follow your Coaching Plan with ritualistic zeal – the development plan for your team is sacrosanct.

Rituals reinforce one’s resolve: It is said that if we can repeat an action for 3 weeks it becomes a habit. What rituals are you going to focus on in the next 21 days?
Addendum:  The feedback received from Mr. Shantanu Sengupta has prompted this.

When I started working as a Sales Executive none of the devices used today existed. We dialled numbers on a mammoth land – line phone, information was maintained in ledgers, letters were typed using manual typewriters, the only computer in the office was kept in specially made air -conditioned rooms and had less computing power that the average mobile phone we use today, the mobile phone and smart devices were concepts in some whiz’s mind. Mail was usually posted in a letterbox and took days to reach the destination.

Business was done by meeting clients.

I think business still gets done that way, but there has been remarkable change in the way information moves between people. You need to decide the amount of time spent on phones and computers based on the demands of your job – and I believe less is always better.

  1. shantanusengupta
    January 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I don’t agree with anyone who say that checking mails evey morning to start a day is a waste!! Millions are just doing that to keep their jobs, esp. in Cos. which operate in multiple geographic timelines! Similarly many CEOs spend the first few minutes of their breakfast in sipping coffee while checking mails, since the ritual gives them a head-on start to their day’s targets for achievement.
    Rituals are created either by self or society or trainers to bring some kind of discipline, in the same way as your recommended rituals above. 
    However a ritual may become an obsession or superstition if started without knowing the reasons clearly before starting. Your Racquet and shirt examples are not rituals but superstitions.    

    • JayadevM
      January 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Shantanu, thank you for that detailed response. It says that you have gone through my post with interest and missed no detail.

      I have no problem with anyone checking email in the morning before they head for work – you rightly indicated “a few minutes” in the context of a CEO.

      I have stated that reading emails for ONE HOUR can be counter-productive. Now it is rare for the typical Sales Pro to have that many mails to answer each day. And in most cases there is a support team that would generate proposals and other documents need to back up his work. Maybe he can allocate one day in a week, that too in a lean hour for administrative work.

      But spending an hour or more each day for checking emails would not be productive unless all his business comes that way.

      I know that the world is changing and a lot of transactions happen on the Net and Smart – media; but even today business usually happens when we meet the customer.

      You are right – rituals can bring discipline; but we need to choose the rituals well. Productivity and effectiveness should be the cornerstones of your rituals.

      To answer the other point, didn’t I say at the start that this article is about superstitions and rituals. The intention here is to direct people towards the ones that make them productive. The superstition at times makes the person go for the less effective option – because his is not able to change! There are times when you have to break the mold and try something new to avoid getting stuck in a rut.

      I am sure each one of my readers is at liberty to do as she chooses even after reading this post. I hope they make the right choices.

      Look forward to more feedback from you. Cheers!

  2. January 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Bottom line is that you need to do your homework before meeting with the client, don’t think that you can wink it…..it will only hurt you in the long run. You have to be a great listener along with the other skills. If not, you are going to miss “Where do I sign?”.
    I do check emails before I get out but I also check them right before I go to bed, this reduces the time that I spend on emails in the morning and gives me to sleep on a response when every one is sleeping and what I’ve noticed is that important emails are often generated outside the 9 to 5 window.

    • JayadevM
      January 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you, Paul!

      You said a lot of useful things there. Listening skills, simple tricks to stop emails (& even other work) from piling up and doing the home-work before the meeting. Useful techniques for Professionals in any discipline.

      I liked in particular that checking mail in the night idea – provides more time to think over the problem. But I hope the problem won’t make you lose any sleep – my guess is that it won’t in your case.

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