Are You Prepared to Succeed?

In any endeavor preparation is a key to success. That’s not exactly a profound statement because everybody knows that. But knowing that isn’t the challenge. Doing it is.

 

Preparation is the difference between being proactive and reactive. It is the difference between a stress inducing task and an anxiety free accomplishment. Preparation saves time and energy. Preparing for your day allows you to anticipate potential problems and have at least a limited plan for dealing with them. 

 

Preparation is possibly the greatest confidence booster ever. When you invest some time in preparing, for a meeting, an interview, a sales call or a difficult conversation you speak more authoritatively. It appears as if you actually know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. Imagine that. 

 

Most people who don’t prepare claim that they don’t have the time. Well if time is a concern for you then that’s the very reason you should be investing a bit of it in preparation. An hour of preparation will often shave two off the project or task.

 

Here’s one idea for you, it’s something I do every morning. 

 

If you were to look at my calendar you would see the same appointment every day, every single day. It’s from 5:00am to 5:30am. The appointment says “Planning and Solitude.” Every day!

 

It’s often the most important 30 minutes of my day. I invest those 30 minutes preparing to have a successful day. There are no interruptions and no distractions. It makes no difference what part of the world I’m in or what else may be happening. I and I alone control those 30 minutes. If that seems selfish then you should know that it is those 30 minutes that help me help others. 

 

Those 30 minutes chart my course for the day. Yes, unanticipated events may throw me off course temporarily but after I’ve dealt with those I have a course to get back on. Without preparation I wouldn’t. 


If all it takes is one disruption to send your day out of control then I highly recommend you steal 30 minutes for yourself early in the day. Use them to prepare yourself for success.

You’re Gonna Get the Beep

I haven’t done any real research on this but it seems to me the odds are pretty good these days that when we call someone we’re going to get their voicemail rather than actually talking to them. 

 

There are probably several reasons for that but I think a big one is the simple fact that people are really busy. The convenience of letting a call go to voicemail is just easier than stopping whatever we’re doing to take a call. 

 

It’s gotten to the point where I’m almost surprised when a real person actually answers the phone. I expect to get someone’s voicemail and I’m prepared for the moment I hear the beep. You know the beep, it is the indication that you should start talking. 

 

I’m amazed at the number of people who use the phone for business who are apparently surprised when they get someone’s voicemail and who then go almost totally braindead when they get the beep. 

 

They stutter, stammer, hem and haw, start and stop their sentences and generally sound like it’s the first time they have ever gotten the beep. 

 

Folks, I have to tell you if you’re making phone calls then you’re gonna get the beep. Often!

 

Be prepared for it…

 

If you’re in sales and you get the beep then every stutter and stammer, each hem and haw, and all the false starts impact not only your professionalism but your credibility as well. A customer or prospect might just get the impression that you don’t know what you’re doing, no matter how experienced you actually are. 

 

The lack of preparation for the simple task of leaving a coherent message is easily spotted by your prospect or customer. Plan as if you’re going to get the beep and know exactly what you’re going to say. Know why you’re calling and why the person you’re leaving the message for should return your call. Say everything as if you’ve said it before. Say it with the confidence of someone who has said it a thousand times and with the enthusiasm of someone saying it for the first time. Give the appearance of a professional who is prepared to have a professional conversation. 

 

But…

 

When I say know “exactly” what you are going to say I mean that you should say it, really just say it, speak it as if the other person is on the phone. Do not read it. If your message is really just something you read from a script then in my little opinion you probably don’t deserve a call back. 

 

Professionals prepare to succeed. Professional salespeople prepare for every customer interaction, even for interactions with the customer’s voicemail. Every time you call someone you should be prepared to leave a message, a clear, compelling and concise message. 


Leaving only your name and phone number by the way is NOT a message, it’s just some information that the person you’re calling will likely never use. Prepared professionals provide the other person with a solid reason for calling them back. 


If you use a phone to call other people you’re gonna get the beep. If you’re using the phone for business purposes then you best be prepared for it cause if you’re not the beep may be the only thing you ever hear from your prospect or customer.

Prepare to Succeed! 

How good are you? Are you so good at what you do that you no longer need to practice or prepare? If you even thought about answering yes to that important question then you may want to rethink your answer.

I’ve written before about a very, very successful salesperson named Tom. The truth is, he wasn’t just a successful salesperson, he was a successful person. In every area of his life.

He sold insurance for over 40 years and for each and every one of those 40 years he was his company’s top salesperson. He once showed me one of his quarterly commission checks that was well over $1,000,000. A quarterly check! He averaged over $6,000,000 annual income, selling insurance! 

Now he didn’t show me that check to brag or boast about his success. He showed me that check so I would understand what was possible if I was willing to work for it.

Years ago I ran into Tom at a large office building in Downtown Minneapolis. This was about a year or two before Tom would retire and he was standing in a hallway talking to himself. 

Being the kind sensitive guy that I was my first thought was “the poor old guy, he’s talking to himself, he ought to hang it up.”

I walked up to Tom and asked him what he was up to. As was often the case his answer surprised me. He said that he was getting ready to make a sales call and he was practicing what he was going to say.

Can you imagine that! Here’s a guy who in his career had probably made thousands of sales calls, with tremendous success. Yet he was still preparing, still practicing his craft. Still doing everything he could do to get better.

He went inside to make his sales call and I walked away once again amazed. I couldn’t help but think to myself that his dedication to preparation was one of the keys to his success. He simply wouldn’t think of making a presentation without proper preparation and practice. 

How about you? Do you “wing it?” Do you “know your stuff” so well that you no longer require preparation? 

Really? 

What Tom taught me that day was that no one will ever be that good. No one will ever be that smart. If you’re “doing it on the fly” then you’re hurting your chances for success. That’s true no matter what the “it” is. That’s true if the “it” is in your personal life or your professional life. You must be prepared to succeed! 

 So… let me ask you again. How good are you?