As a sales organization, we are continually running contests and themes, and one of those was for our Business Development Specialists to pick from one of three options, a choice of 1) My Best Appointment Day 2) My Best Appointment Week or 3) My Best Appointment. That was the contest and theme of the week when we interviewed Jim McCune, who selected My Best Appointment Day. This article is his perspective and analysis of his best day, so far, as someone relatively new to business to business appointment setting and outbound cold calling. Jim is semi-retired and found us in his quest to find a real, daytime job working from home. Jim was looking for a way to stay in the professional workforce without the hassle of commuting, and at the same time, utilize his business background to earn part-time income.

On our team meetings, we often read articles, excerpts from books, listen to sound files or watch videos on topics such as motivation, time management or skill building. During this period of time, we were reading excerpts from a masterpiece of a business book entitled Scaling up Excellence, Getting to More Without Settling for Less, by Sutton and Rau, professors at Stanford University. Of course, it was not a coincidence that this book fit perfectly with our theme. In fact, the entire book fits perfectly with the theme, however, at that point in time we were starting on Chapter One, which is about – The Problem of More, uncovering pockets of exemplary performance.

Jim is an analyst at heart as well as by education and training, and he approached his topic, My Best Appointment Day, from the point of view of our themed contest and the book. He breaks it down for us in this interview, the anatomy of his exceptional day:

Jim on the 80/20 Rule –

Why are people in sales so concerned about days of exceptional performance—days when we go above and beyond our normal performance? Aren’t they exceptions to the general rule that are nice when they come, but nothing you can really count on? That might be true if the old maxim “80% of the sales are obtained by 20% of the sales force” wasn’t true; but it is. The fact that some people can achieve above normal the majority of the time suggests they are doing something different than the rest of the herd.

It seems that achieving excellence on a more consistent basis involves going above and beyond what everyone else is doing, or at least doing so more often. They say managers know how to do things right, while leaders know the right things to do.

As independent contractors we must be both managers and leaders of our own time and efforts. We must know the right things to do in order to excel, and – once we know what we should do – we must also know how to do them!

Now comes the hard part: knowing is not enough. Once we know we must persist, consistently and with determination, to slug out the “ground war” as Sutton and Rau explain in Chapter 1, to correctly do the little things that – when patiently added up over time – result in exceptional performance.

What led to the exceptional day – My Best Appointment Day?

Planning – laying the groundwork.

I knew the night before, the work I was planning to get done, what client I was going to call for and from what list I was going to call. In other words, I was ready. There was no last-minute getting things, or getting myself together; I was ready and I had a plan.

My distractions were limited. This is my worst weakness as I have a number of other things going on, and sometimes get distracted for fear they won’t get done. On this day I had just spent several days getting caught up on all those ‘other things’ that had been hanging ‘out there.’ I remembered the night before to do my back exercises that keep my back from hurting after several hours of dialing. If I don’t feel good, I don’t call good, but that day I felt good!

Attitude –

I kept in mind I was not pestering people; I was providing a valuable service. It’s nice to sit in a comfortable office drawing a salary and resenting sales calls when someone else is doing the difficult job of selling that brings in the revenue to cover your paycheck! The world may consider telemarketers a scourge, but the truth is they are the bold, leading edge of business advancement!

Pace and persistence –

I just kept dialing, at a reasonable pace, and doing the best I could. When everything else fails, just keep on doing the best you can with what you have.

At the outset, I asked why people are so interested in exceptional days. The answer is obvious: we want to learn from them with the goal of developing habits of behavior or skills that will give us a new, and more excellent, normal! The top 20% that deliver the top 80% are calling our name—if only we will hear it.

It’s always great to see new people succeeding and excelling. We learn much from each other on our team meetings when veterans and newbies come together to discuss and examine the anatomy of an exceptional day, an exceptional week or an exceptional appointment. Simply proclaiming an intention to get to a new, more excellent, normal is the first step to finding that new, more excellent normal.

Tracie Chancellor