People sometimes avoid doing things in life because… maybe they’re scared, maybe they have no one supporting them, or maybe they are simply waiting for the “right time.” Most of us have probably heard of the phrase “paralysis by analysis.” There is a fine line between preparedness and over analyzing. Gathering data and discussing info prior to an action or decision is good of course. But at what point does “getting ready” become counterproductive and limit your ability to take action?
My First Day Making Cold Calls
In late 2014 I was beginning my journey in outside sales. It was November and I had had minimal experience selling, but was in the process of transitioning from a Management Trainee to an Outside Sales role. I had made cold calls over the phone, but never had I knocked on doors on my own. So after preparing a plan for that particular Wednesday, I went out and made in person cold calls for the first time.
One minor detail… this was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. This day is probably one of the worst days of the year to knock on doors and offer your products and services. In fact, a front office worker made mention of this fact to me while I was out and about.
I’m not advocating for sales people to get their feet wet the week of a national holiday when most decision makers are probably out of the office. But I had reached a point where I had to get out and begin building my sales experience. I had reached a point where I was in danger of over preparing. In short, I just had to get out there. Was the timing “right?” Probably not. Was the day valuable? Absolutely. You have to start somewhere.
The MVP Thought Process
I recommend a book called The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. The focus of the book is encouraging entrepreneurs to release new products when they become “Minimum Viable Products” or MVPs. The product may not be perfect, in fact it shouldn’t be. But what is perfect? Perfect can be subjective. The author argues that you cannot fully know how the market will respond to a product or service offering. By releasing an “MVP” you can see how consumers respond, learn what is well received and what the market does not like, and then continuously iterate and make constant improvements to a product going forward. The point is… START! By over analyzing and even over developing something, you can miss opportunities to learn and grow.
Don’t Waste Monday Morning
I’ve read articles that suggest the best times of day to make cold calls, send marketing emails, etc. I’m sure there’s truth to what these articles say. Obviously the suggestions may vary from industry to industry.
But sales people should beware of using articles, data, etc. to make excuses and not take action. I used to go on team sales calls with a more seasoned sales person that worked at my company in a different department. I picked his brain looking for advice and wisdom and he said that he is out and about knocking on doors at 8am on Monday morning. His justification? People are usually working on Monday at 8am. There’s nothing wrong with learning the idiosyncrasies of your industry and market and timing actions accordingly. I myself had to guard against wasting valuable time slots on Mondays and Fridays because of an assumption I had that people were not accessible.
So when is the time to take action “right?” Put simply, you will not always know when the timing is “right.” And the timing my never be right, and it won’t ever be perfect. So prepare well, make a decision, and take the plunge. Analyze but don’t over analyze. Look at data, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. Plan but don’t over plan. Don’t make excuses, and simply start. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, and you’ll improve. It won’t be perfect… but maybe it doesn’t have to be.