This is the third in the series of columns written with the above cartoon in mind and the three words that begin Vanilla Ice’s mega-hit “Ice Ice Baby” – Stop, Collaborate & Listen.

The thought was that those are three great words for salespeople to think about in terms of making strides in their profession. This month, the focus is on the word STOP, and it may be the most difficult of the three. Your tendency may be to rush through a day, especially when things are busy. You rush from sales call to sales call, mix in a myriad of different phone calls, trips in and out of your branch, and the usual “firefighting” activities that pop up for most salespeople. This hurrying through the day can put in you in an auto-pilot state of mind, just grinding away. Take a few seconds to STOP your mental process and just think before moving forward. Slowing down and thinking can help salespeople see things more strategically and not get bogged down in too much transactional detail, the next bid, quote, project, etc. Most of you would probably agree that taking a more strategic approach to selling in your territory could pay dividends for you. Let’s look at three ways STOP can help.

STOP: Before going into a sales call, STOP and ask yourself this question: “What action do I want this customer to take as a result of this sales call?” The answer to this question is your sales objective. There are multiple benefits to setting sales objectives prior to calls. It will help you look at the whole sales cycle more strategically, where are you at with this customer, and where it makes sense to go next. You will also know when the sales call is over. When the objective is met, the call is over. Thank them for their time, explain the next steps, smile, shake hands, and leave. An added benefit is this helps you avoid wasting time wrapping up sales calls and, let’s be honest, most salespeople waste a lot of time at the end of sales calls talking about hunting, the big ball game, weekend plans, etc. This “found time” can be used to make more sales calls, getting you in front of more opportunities.

STOP: Many salespeople will leave a sales call, jump in their vehicle, and speed off for the next call. STOP, before rushing off to your next appointment or event, take a couple of minutes to digest what just took place. Ask yourself a few questions – How did that go? What’s the next step in this sales cycle? What did I commit to do, and how will I remember to do it? Customers want to deal with salespeople that can get things done. That last question will ensure that things don’t fall through the cracks and you will gain a reputation as a person who does what they say they will do.

STOP: This is a tough one and is directly related to the cartoon above. George Bernard Shaw is quoted as having said “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Human brains work fast, and we often speak before we think. When someone shares a viewpoint, makes a statement, or shares an opinion resist the urge to jump in and fill the conversation with the sweet sound of your own voice…STOP. Pause before responding to something that was just said. Do you understand where they are coming from or are you making assumptions? Ask yourself “Am I looking at a 6 or a 9?”

My three-month deep dive into Robert Van Winkle aka Vanilla Ice’s famous song is over. Stop, Collaborate & Listen are three fantastic words for salespeople to keep in mind as they work through the days, weeks, and months ahead. Sales can seem like a complex profession, but it can be boiled down to three simple things; Be sincere with people and don’t try to be something that you’re not, find problems to solve, and be confident in your price to solve those problems. Oops…I may have found a subject for next month’s column. Happy Selling!!

Read the previous entries in this three-part series, The Importance of Listening and Collaborate.