June 22, 2018

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A Revealing Discipline Exercise

"Scott, I'm so frustrated. I find it difficult to get on the phones in the morning. Once I'm on the phones, everything's great, and I'm calling away and going through my list of prospects. But I find that it sometimes takes me an hour or two to get into the mood for making calls. What can I do? I feel so frustrated because I'm an experienced biller and should know better." --Frustrated in Frisco

I'm just like you. I procrastinate and would rather check my email all day than pick up the phone. I sometimes wonder how I made it through the Naval Academy because I put off studying usually until the night before the exam. I would rather work out or spend time with friends than put my head in an engineering book. It's the same way with my desk. I would rather do something fun and easy than make that first phone call. Maybe there's a telephone aphrodisiac somewhere in the world. I'll have to check on eBay. But if not, then we'll have to explore some other options.

I think the reason you and everyone else in sales have this challenge is because it's human nature to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. There is an element of pain associated with the first phone call of the day. Let's just go ahead and admit this reality and figure out a way to use it to our advantage. It's like going swimming. There's always a little shock to the chill of the water when you first go swimming. But once you start having fun in the pool, you don't even think about the shock of the chilly water.

Try this easy exercise to become more disciplined in the mornings, and hit the phones with an aggressive and focused strike.

Write down the things that you do between the time you touch the door knob of your office to the time that you make your first phone call. And I mean everything. Perhaps your list might be something like this:

  1. Walk through door.
  2. Set down briefcase.
  3. Boot up computer.
  4. Say hi to Frank.
  5. Hear about Frank's weekend.
  6. Ignore Frank.
  7. Empty old coffee.
  8. Make new coffee.
  9. Sit in chair.
  10. Check email.
  11. Visit
  12. Check
  13. Call wife to get grocery list.
  14. Forget to put grocery list in pocket.
  15. Shuffle papers on desk with no sense or purpose just to look busy.
  16. Go to bathroom.
  17. Refill coffee again.
  18. Sit in chair.
  19. Get interrupted by Frank.
  20. Blow off Frank and pretend to listen to him.
  21. Check to see if the temperature outside changed in the last twenty minutes.
  22. Call wife to tell her I lost grocery list and need to get it from her again.

You get the picture. This list of twenty-two items occurred from the moment of your arrival to the time you started doing what you are supposed to be doing, which was hitting the phones. Write down everything, I mean everything, that happens in the morning and you will find out what you can eliminate. Why not make picking up the phone and calling a prospect item number 3, instead of number 23? Once you make your first dial, Make five more before you do anything else. You might not make contact with anyone, but at least it sets the pace for the day, a pace of achievement and aggressive effort.

Remember, success in anything is all about focus, and if you focus on what's critical, then you'll get the results that you need to get right now. It's still a competitive market, and you need every edge that you can get. I personally believe there is a crisis of discipline in our society and especially in the selling profession. Avoid the temptation to give in. Stay the course. You can make it if you turn the heat up just a little bit in the right areas. The difference between boiling steam and water in its liquid state is only one small degree. Turn the heat up by one degree in your focus and discipline and watch your sales skyrocket.

-Scott Love

Copyright 2009 Scott T. Love
Scott Love improves the performance of recruiters and the margins of search firms and staffing agencies. His training website,, has become one of the largest free internet training sites for the industry. To have him show your staff how to produce more than they thought possible, call him at 828-225-7700.