How to Turn Your Salespeople Into Superheroes

May 17, 2023

You’ve heard the term “comfort zone.” What exactly is it? One of the best definitions I have read is the comfort zone is a psychological state in which a person feels at ease because they are not being tested.  

When business is booming, it is very easy to not know whether you or your sales team is in the “comfort zone”. 

People tend to stay in their comfort zone because they want to avoid the anxiety that comes with change. Furthermore, anything outside of their comfort zone creates uncertainty and loss of control. As humans, we are wired this way. It’s a normal and acceptable behavioral trait. 

However, exterior conditions such as inflation, higher interest rates and a challenging job market demand that we explore different ways to engage customers, as well as our employees. 

We have found that most businesses that are in their respective comfort zones are treading on thin ice. When numbers are good, most salespeople and managers are unaware of the serious challenges they will create down the road.  

Dan Cathey, chairman of fast food chain Chick-fil-A, says his company had to change internally to keep up with all the external changes going on around it and that refusing to step out of your comfort zone leads to greater financial challenge down the road. 

Why stay there? 

People stay in their comfort zone because they think it is safer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Unaware that fear and uncertainty keep them in their unchangeable state, they end up getting passed by a competitor.  

Fear and uncertainty are the root causes of most people never changing. Often, we hear excuses from many people, saying, “I can’t do that” or “I’m not good at that.” Many tire dealership owners and managers get so caught up in the whirlwind of day-to-day operations  as well as the perfect storm of unprecedented times of profitability  they never consider that they are in a comfort zone until it’s too late, or until getting out of their comfort zone becomes a more labor-intensive change project. 

How do you get out of your comfort zone? Two psychologists performed an experiment and found there was an interesting relationship between performance and anxiety. They found that too much pressure has the opposite effect and can cause many to panic.  

This being said, changing behavior sometimes requires a professional trainer from an outside company who knows and understands all behavioral change processes. Most of the time, they can create a “sweet spot” of stress based on how the individual responds to change and/or willingness to move out of their comfort zone. For example, once someone experiences increased performance in a small area, they are more willing to try other techniques that are being recommended or challenged. 

Here are five simple ways you can get out of your comfort zone: 

  1. Do something new that you always wanted to do;
  2. Start a fitness challenge;
  3. Change your daily routine;
  4. Invest in professional growth;
  5. Face a fear of anything that could hinder you.

Do something new. Virtually everyone has some kind of bucket list goal they want to accomplish. Many people want to run a marathon, learn to play the piano or travel to a destination that others have visited and told them about. We recommend following the slogan “just do it” and making the commitment. Believe it or not, when it is finished there is a sense of accomplishment, but it will also condition you to try something greater. 

Start a fitness challenge. After running several half marathons and having a PR of one hour and forty-nine minutes I decided  at my chiropractor’s recommendation  to start road cycling. After my first 62-mile race, I was hooked. Our riding group is now training for a 115-mile ride that has 10,000 feet of climbing mixed in. We are now less than 60 days away and progressing toward our goal of being ready. As daunting as this endeavor seemed when we signed up, we knew we would benefit in many ways. How? Because we know the people you become affiliated with and are accountable to can speak to many areas of your life and help you in more areas than just becoming healthier. For example, my chiropractor introduced me to a new client. Through him, I have secured a future deal as a paid brand ambassador for a great product. Good things happen when you commit to getting out of your comfort zone. 

Change your daily routine. Even though having a daily routine helps us get more done and builds stability in our lives, we can deviate on many things. For the independent tire dealer, moving to a different counter or computer from time to time will help keep you on your toes, and many times moving to a different store may test your sales teams’ abilities. Depending on the distance between stores, you could have a store with an entirely different market selling to a different demographic.

Invest in professional growth. Comfort zones get in the way of professional growth. I had a successful client once say, “Training is not something you did. It’s something you do." We must also see training as an investment with a quantifiable return. Michael Spencer, chief operating officer of TireSouth, a rapidly growing independent tire dealership in the Atlanta, Ga., area said, “I have noticed that when sales people and/or managers get out of their comfort zones and try new techniques, their sales increase and we receive more positive Google reviews.” I am amazed at how many people will hire a professional trainer to help them get into shape physically, but will not employ a coach to help them professionally. Both trainers are equally important because they see things we cannot see. As a coach, I have a coach who helps and advises me in multiple areas professionally. If you do not invest in professional growth, you can get stuck in the status quo and never move to a higher level of achievement.

Face your fears. Everyone has fears. Facing a fear doesn’t mean it will go away. Fear is always present when I speak in front of 100 or more people. However, only my wife can spot it and even now it’s sometimes hard for her to see. Why? Because I have learned how to overcome the outward signs of fear. There is a lot of satisfaction when you learn to overcome your fears and move freely to help others. The best way to overcome fear is to pick one and by trial and error  you will most likely fail a few times  do something to move through it. If you are afraid of change, walk through a change process with an expert by setting up a proof of concept to determine what the change would look like. This will help you see the long-term and short-term benefits and challenges associated with the fear/change that you want to face. 

One of the biggest comfort zone challenges in this consumer-led economy is inspiring others to do more than they get paid to do. A good leader can always pull extra effort from their followers the same way a salesperson can pull extra sales  in the form of needed products and services, of course  from a customer without making the customer feel pressured.

When salespeople get out of their comfort zone and try new techniques, customers are engaged in a more meaningful and memorable way. This sounds easy, but the execution is difficult and for many impossible, unless you go where the magic is located  outside your comfort zone.

About the Author

Mike Townsend

Mike Townsend is the owner of Townsend Strategies, a sales and leadership training and marketing company that advises independent tire dealerships. To contact Townsend, email him at [email protected].

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