Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Paul, Joe and the Confidence Yardstick

The story of 2 car salesmen

Ian Thorpe said in an interview:

"For myself, losing is not coming second. It's getting out of the water knowing you could have done better. For myself, I have won every race I've been in."

Here is an analogy to explain my yardstick business.

Paul and Joe are both successful car salesmen. They both exudes self-confidence. They both sell luxury cars and are doing very well. They learned their trade from their mate old Bill who wrote a bestseller on sales skills. They both live a very comfortable lifestyle and feel happy that they are very good at selling expensive cars. After a particularly good day, they like to show off a bit and it goes like this.

Joe goes home with a bottle of wine and flowers and confides to Dolly the wife: "Gee I sold another 5 cars today. Am I good or what? Do you know how many cars I have sold this year? 20. Surely I must be the best salesman there ever was."

Paul also goes home - to wife Penny - with chocolate and wine: "Gosh Penny, I sold 5 cars today. I feel good. I am getting really good at selling cars.You should have seen how I handled the sale of a Ferrari 250LM today. I knew exactly how to hook that old guy. I practiced my sales pitch yesterday. Old Bill would have been proud."

In both cases, success is helping boost the confidence of these 2 men of course. It confirms their skills as salesmen. Their yardstick is different however.
Joe's yardstick for his self-confidence is the number of cars he sells.
In the case of Paul, it is the knowledge that the selling process he uses is effective that is the basis for his belief in himself

Paul knows that he is a good salesman. He is confident that he knows the process of selling. He practices and is always seeking to improve it. The lack of sales does not impact his self-confidence. He knows that there are other factors that can impact the sales (Maybe there is a recession, or maybe the profile of the luxury car buyer has changed or maybe the car manufacturer has been building dodgy card and the market has caught on). So he changes the process, maybe adjusting his style to the new type of buyers and eventually success returns to him.

Joe on the other hand is getting more and more depressed.Without the success of selling cars, he loses confidence in himself. He tries harder and harder but with no results. The harder is tries, the more despondent he gets, which in turn does not help him sell more cards. By his yardstick, he no longer has a basis for self-confidence.
If Joe does not change his yardstick, he will have to leave the car selling business.

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