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New Year Planning

Furniture World Magazine


Reflect, so we may repeat our successes and learn from our failures.

January is a time for reflection, that is, a time to think upon the past year and to plan for the year ahead. Fittingly, the ancient Romans named it January after the two-faced god Janus who with one face looked to the past, with the other to the future. With that symbolic thought in mind I felt it proper to have the editor position this article in time for you to do some reflection on 1997 and some planning for 1998.

The purpose of our reflection should be to take balanced stock of our successes and failures. Of our successes so that we may repeat them; of our failures, so that we might learn from them. I like what Zig Ziglar says about failure: it is not a person; it is an event.

The purpose of our planning should be based, I feel, on something else Zig Ziglar says: "As important as how we view our past is, it is not as important as how we view our future." No amount of reflection can change our past. After all, what has been done cannot be undone, the saying goes. But more than anything else, how we view our future affects how we live our present.

"Change the picture," Zig Ziglar exclaims in one of his video presentations, his voice resonating like that of a southern preacher, "and you change the performer. Change the performer and you change the performance."

The main word is performance and the key to it is goals which one author defined as dreams with datelines. Without datelines, our goals end up as dreams in which we find ourselves chasing ghosts down the empty labyrinths of our minds.

Brian Tracy has repeatedly expressed a phenomenon about goals, which each salesperson should remember: salespeople cannot consistently sell at a level higher than that of their goals. Experience has taught Tracy that whenever salespeople with no goals chance to have unexpectedly good sales, they just as suddenly slip back into mediocrity. It's as if they cannot cope with the pressures of success. Someone once expressed this same phenomenon as follows: "Most salespeople who fail, do so not because they aim high and miss the mark, but because they aim low and hit it!" How appropriate the words of Shakespeare's Cassius to Brutus: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." Those of us who are underachievers should not lay the blame at the foot of our "ups." By the end of each year, Lady Fortune has usually dealt every one approximately the same cards. It's how a salesperson plays those cards that counts. Each one gets approximately the same number of "good ups." Luck has nothing to do with it, unless you define luck as preparation meeting up with opportunity. That's what ups really are--opportunities. That is the reason why successful salespeople live by the following motto: "It is better to be prepared for something to happen and then not have it happen than not to be prepared for something to happen and then have it happen." Back to Shakespeare, this time Brutus speaking to Cassius saying something else worth noting: "There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune." Well, again and again I have watched goalless salespeople come upon that tide and drown in its flood! Lost opportunities which cost owners and salespeople untold fortunes. I think we deceive ourselves when we add that it costs the customer just as often. Perhaps in the case of those who postpone their purchases, but eventually most customers buy their furniture somewhere. Just look around the homes of your friends. Are any of them without sofas and dinettes and other common furniture items? The real losers, I repeat, are the store owners and the mediocre salespeople who consistently fail to meet their daily opportunities.

An interesting word OPPORTUNITY. It literally means "not quite in the harbor." Salespeople are, so to speak, on an old time sailing vessel with a shipload of merchandise waiting to be unloaded at the harbor's docks. Just before that harbor lie the two monsters, Scylla and Charybdis, sister monsters, who guard the straits, a fierce challenge even for the best manned ship. No ship can make it through those straits without certain essentials in place. Those essentials are Lawhon's Five Groups of Knowledge, Learning Internation- al's Four Selling Skills, and the proper selling attitude as described in Brian Tracy's book, "Advanced Strategic Selling." There remain those three: knowledge, skills, and attitude. But the greatest of these is attitude.

I'd like to close this article with one of the most remarkable examples of attitude I have seen; that of the Canadian champion drummer, Alvin Law. Don Essic, in his little book, "Success Stories, 148 Motivational Insights," tells of how in December of 1990 he had the privilege of hearing Alvin Law speak at a conference. "Never underestimate the talents and abilities of people," Alvin Law told his audience, as he accompanied his verbal presentation with the intermittent playing of his drums. "Pretty amazing, huh?" writes Don Essic who then adds: "Well, not as amazing as when you watched and listened to him share all this with no arms! Alvin Law was born with no arms."

Will anyone of us fail to have the productive year we ought to if we keep the image of Alvin Law ever present as we sail into the new year? Happy sailing in 1998.

Corporate trainer, educator and speaker Dr. Peter A. Marino has written extensively on sales training techniques and their furniture retailing applications. Questions on any aspect of sales education can be sent to FURNITURE WORLD at pmarino@furninfo.com.