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Four months ago, Jill attended a seminar on how to keep her customers and prospects thinking of her, and not her competition.  One simple method was sending a personal thank you note to everyone who stopped in and met with her.

The first month she wrote something in each note that was unique to that person to just over 200 people.  Writing these unique notes during non-sales time was consuming all of her free time.  Half-way through the second month, she decided to save herself some time and created a generic thank you note.

After four months, and close to nine hundred thank you notes later, her sales were no better than before.  In fact, the last three months' sales had been slightly below her average.  As she sat in front of the computer screen with yet another 45 names to enter for thank you notes, she could not help but wonder if this was useless.

“How’s it going,” asked Nancy, one of the other salespeople, “getting any results yet?”

“I’m sitting here wondering why my sales average is going down after sending out over 900 notes.  Doesn’t look like the note is working.”

 “How do you know?”

“Well,” replied Jill, “if it were working, I’d figure the average would go up, not down.”

“How many people that you sent notes to have come back?”

“Let’s see, first month there were sixteen, second month there were ten, third month five, fourth month six.  You can see where this is headed.”

“Jill, you’re missing the point.  What did you do the first month with the note that you stopped doing?”

“That’s when I included personal information, and . . . I see what you mean.  But it’s impossible to do that all the time.  There are not enough hours in the day.”

“Then don’t do it all the time.  Pick the number of notes you can deal with, forget the rest and put the personal info back in.  See what happens.”


Jill has committed to the behavior of sending thank you notes.  After the first month, she changed her technique which resulted in the behavior becoming less productive.  Now, by staying with the behavior, and returning to the technique that worked, she will more than likely have positive results from her efforts.


Many salespeople would figure that since Jill’s behavior is not getting results, it should be abandoned.  How often is it heard that cold calling doesn’t work?  Or that direct mail doesn’t work?  Or that this doesn’t work, or that doesn’t work?  Actually if you made a list of all of the sales things that don’t work according to salespeople, it’s a wonder that any sales are made.

Of course, there are sales made.  A top grossing salesperson has the same behavior as the low grossing salesperson.  Impossible to believe?  There are only two differences between a top salesperson and the rest.

A top grossing salesperson commits to a behavior through thick and thin.  And a top grossing salesperson is always seeking to improve the techniques he uses with his behavior.

A low grossing salesperson bounces from behavior to behavior like a ping-pong ball.  A low grossing salesperson never improves his techniques since he never sticks with a behavior long enough to develop a technique.

One of the most common symptoms of the ping-pong approach is to rush out and embrace whatever is the latest “sure-fire” sales approach of the month.  Salespeople are not the only ones who confuse behavior and technique; many times those in management also confuse them.  “Let’s get the sales team to this seminar this month; it sounds like it covers new ground.  Fire them up; sales are down.”


If you have committed to the behavior and your techniques need improving, the following are some general guidelines.

Find someone who does the same behavior as you but gets better results.  Ask him to watch and/or listen to you.  Have him suggest what he would have done differently.  Regardless of how strange it may seem to you, follow his suggestions.  This may not sound like the most revolutionary suggestion, but it is the best one.

If there is a specific technique you need to develop, such as cold calling, there are numerous books, tapes, seminars, and private training organizations that can help.  Make sure they teach technique and not just behavior.

You commit to the behavior then use technique to improve the behavior.

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