“Q1 is always dead. People just relax and things don’t happen until Q2 kicks in.” She said without even looking up to me from her desk. I knew she was right, it was a given: the first quarter of any fiscal year usually sucks.
“Ok, but what if it wasn’t dead, what if we could do something about it?”. Was my answer.
“No, we can’t. It is what it is.” She said again, which stunned me. I was not deterred though, so I pushed.
“Ok, I hear you, I know that but I still think we can do something about that. It can change. I know I can make it happen.” I said, and I meant it. Something about the way I pronounced those words made my manager stop what she was doing and look up to me.
“You already know what I think, but I’m curious. You already have a NO for an answer, so what better place to start than that one?” were her final words before she wished me Godspeed and let me start working on my plan.
If you are or have been in sales long enough you know Q1 is usually slow and bad. Not always, but most times it is and I was a freshman back then…and of course I didn’t change the course of Sales History or that particular Q1. I did try though and to my surprise, my manager was with me the whole time, walking me through the whole thing, even allowing herself to hear it was possible and trying to make it work with me. She was also there when I failed.
There’s a very good book by Jim Camp (if you don’t know who he is, check here. He’s an amazing and really successful negotiation coach) called “Start with NO…The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know” which I highly recommend that explains quite vividly why starting with NO gives you leverage and can lead to a successful negotiation. It goes as far as to explain why starting with the “win-win” approach can be detrimental to an actual negotiation which is, if you ask me, the kind of approach that forces you to think differently and approach problems differently every single time.
Starting at that point where a certain thing is assumed impossible gives you access to something others might be missing: the opportunity to create something new.
There is a compendium of reasons why the first Quarter in Sales is always slow. I won’t enumerate even a few of them, just stay that they are compelling enough to make any and almost every sales rep I know a true believer of a reality that just lives there, unchallenged: that Q1 is slow.
What if I told you that is not true? What if it was possible to re-invent the first Quarter and make it as strong as the final one of any given fiscal year? You would say it’s impossible which equals “NO”, a big “NO” actually and that would be giving me nothing more than a starting point to try and find the YES.
There are no impossibilities in you career if choose your vantage point properly. It all just depends on when you decide to look at things differently, challenge reality and finally believe that all is possible…if you just say NO.
Also published on Medium.