Five Golden Rules During Challenging Times
We work in a profession that has a tremendous amount of outside influence that affects every aspect of our business (economy, politics, interest rates, affordability, technology, COVID).
All of these things can have an effect on our income. Most people in society have NO understanding of the uncertainty we live with. Today I want to give you 5 golden rules for maintaining your sanity in an uncertain world.
GOLDEN RULE #1 – Don’t spend money before it’s in your bank account.
All of us, at one time or another, have fallen trap to this mistake. Your buyers loved the house, the seller was happy and accepted the offer and you believed it was a done deal…money in the bank. Except it’s NOT money in the bank unless it is IN the bank! Many salespeople calculate the commission on the accepted offer and start imagining what they will do with the money:
- renos on the house
- down payment on a fancy new car
- dream vacation
- buying new clothes
It’s natural for you to imagine what you will do with the money, especially if you are expecting a $10,000 or $20,000 commission. But emotionally bootstrapping yourself to the reward can be debilitating if the deal doesn’t close. The excitement of getting paid is motivating, but the feeling of defeat if it doesn’t go through can crush your confidence.
Dreaming about what you’ll do with the money is good, but don’t mentally spend what you don’t have. I’m a big believer in goals and dreams to stay motivated, but make sure you have a healthy attachment to the successful outcome. I have seen salespeople experience substantial emotional setbacks when a file didn’t go as planned.
Murphy’s Law says, “If something can go wrong it will.” Expect it. Plan for it and have a Plan B in place. The situation is compounded if you let it emotionally crush you. Don’t miss the next opportunity because you are upset about a deal falling apart. When a deal you were counting on falls through, keep the faith.
GOLDEN RULE #2 – If you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it.
This goes beyond rule #1. Too often I have seen salespeople commit to purchasing a new car or renos on their house in anticipation of a big deal closing. When it doesn’t close, of course they are committed to something they can’t afford. The financial pressure is a real distraction:
- you make poor decisions under financial stress
- you may become too aggressive and scare prospects
- you can lose your focus and forget details on a file
- you chase the wrong opportunities out of desperation
We often assume we will write as much business this month as last month, or we will have a better year this year than last year. I love the optimism, but my experience tells me you have to stay grounded and keep it real. Too often we get out ahead of ourselves. Remember, your business is subject to a lot of external forces and some things are out of our control. Even the best forecasts based on the best data can be wrong.
GOLDEN RULE #3 – You need a rainy-day fund.
It is imperative for your emotional health to have a financial back up plan. That way when something unforeseen happens you have enough resources to allow you the time to adapt. I recommend having a 6-month safety net. More if you can. That way if you get sick, or a family emergency pulls you away from work, or the economy takes a tumble, you will have enough money to put food on the table and pay the mortgage without worry.
These days it seems like everyone lives on credit. The sooner you can pay off your debts and save a little money in reserve, the better you will sleep at night. If you don’t have a nest egg yet, get a line of credit. DON’T USE IT! But have it there in case you need it someday. When times get tough, having options let’s you make wise decisions.
GOLDEN RULE #4 – Opportunity often comes disguised as disappointment.
We often get so caught up on the negative that we miss the positive opportunity. In sales, we live with a lot of rejection. How do we NOT get sucked into the dark and stay positive? The best way to get over a missed opportunity is to have more opportunities. You can’t stay in a bad mood because you have to prepare for your next opportunity.
My advice…get busy! Prospect until you have more business than you know how to deal with. The next time you hit a home run, it will take the sting out of the one you missed.
GOLDEN RULE #5 – Move up your deadlines.
Don’t leave anything to the last minute. It will cause you undue stress and you won’t leave yourself enough time to recover is something goes wrong. This rule starts when you get up in the morning. If you start late, you spend the rest of the day trying to catch up and the tasks you need to do never get your full attention when you’re rushed. It will leave you with the feeling that you could have done better. No one likes to feel that way.
Make a commitment to better manage your time. As the saying goes, “How you do anything is how you do everything”. The small things matter. At the end of the day if you add up all the small things, they equal a big thing. Good is not good enough if you want to be great. Starting tomorrow morning, if you typically get up at 7 am, start getting up ½ hour earlier. That is 30 extra minutes to get organized in the morning and start your day right.
Whenever you have a deadline on a project, put a reminder in your calendar to get it done the day before. Give yourself time to recover if something goes wrong. Remember, not everything is in your control.
- If you don’t have a rainy-day fund, open a new bank account and start making automatic deposits into it every month. Set it up like a gym membership so it happens automatically without you thinking about it.
- Commit to spending 4+ hours phone prospecting in your geo farm this week to search for people who want to sell. The market is hot, interest rates are low, buyer demand is high – it is the perfect time to sell.
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