TALKING SALES 218: "Responsibility leads to Initiative"

John Smibert

"We are responsible for everything that happens to us" - an interview with Bob Terson by John Smibert.

How often do you hear the statement "Shit happens" or "it's Murphy's law"?

It's true isn't it - things regularly happen outside our control, the economy turns down, our quota is raised, our prospect is taken over, our inside coach resigns, our product fails, and so on. And when when such things happen it impacts us? How we respond will determine our destiny

According to  Robert Terson we need take responsibility for what happened. "What! It was outside my control" I hear you say.  Bob adds that once we have accepted responsibility we can then take initiative to turn it into a positive. Thus "Responsibility leads to initiative".

In this discussion Bob tells two stories which illustrate this point. I particularly like his story about two competing service providers who were impacted by the local council doing work on the road in front of their business.  It was a deterrent for customers to access the premises thus a significant negative impact on business. Each provider reacted differently - one negatively and one positively with interesting outcomes.

For this story and other great insights view the video or read the transcript below - I hope you like it.   This is the second of a series of discussions I will conduct with Bob.


Robert Terson is a published author, sales authority, sales blogger and Keynote Speaker. His driving purpose is to help us succeed.

Subscribe to future videos           See previous 'TALKING SALES' videos here


John: Welcome back, I've got the great Bob Terson with me again - welcome, Bob!

Bob: How are you doing, John?

John: Hey, I thought the audience out there would love to hear more about a topic you wrote about recently, and that's responsibility leads to initiative. Can you explain what that means?

Bob: Yes. It means that you're responsible for everything that happens. If you blame externals, external forces, for something not going right, you're just kidding yourself. Many, many years ago, decades ago, I was in a community, and I called on two service stations.

John: Like a garage fixing cars...

Bob: Yes, repair shop. And the first one I called in, I walked in and it was desolate. Nobody was there, there was a guy sitting on the stoop, no cars around, he looked dejected, I handed him my card and he started laughing, "Advertising?" You see, the whole area was torn up, they were working on the streets and everything was torn up, and there was no access. I mean, there was access, but the man had no business, and he started laughing, "Advertising? Are you kidding me? Look what they did to me!" meaning how they tore up the streets, he said, "I'll be out of business in a month. Know anybody who needs a good mechanic?"

John: Sounds very depressing. [laughs]

Bob: I walked out, and I went across the street to this other service station.

John: Same conditions with the road and everything else.

Bob: Same conditions, but there was a buzz going on, there were cars everywhere, I walk in, and in all three bays people working on cars. I handed my card to a man, he said, "Wait a minute, I'll get the owner," the owner comes out, and he looks at my card and he says, "Advertising? Don't need any. Got more than I can handle!" and I looked at him, and I looked across the street, and I looked at this man, and he explained, he said... Well, I guess I asked him, "How come?" and he said, "Well, I found that the city fathers were going to be tearing up the streets, so I went around the neighbourhood, knocking on doors, telling people what was going to happen in the next 18 months, offering all these specials, and I have more work than I can handle!" I never forgot that situation. One man just accepted his fate, and another man refused to accept his fate; he took responsibility for his fate.

John: Love that story, love that story. The bottom line, the message we're trying to get across here is... We have to take responsibility for our own destiny is what you're saying.

Bob: Yes.

John: No matter what the world throws at us...

Bob: It's up to you to make something happen.

John: Take initiative, do something about it.

Bob: Yes. Responsibility leads to initiative.

John: When I look at every successful salesperson I know, in whatever field it is, those successful salespeople... Doesn't matter if they have a massive quota thrown on them, catastrophe, the economy drops... They find a way.

Bob: Yes. Where so many people are happy to let something terrible happen and blame it. "Oh, the weather, or my sales manager, or the presentation, or the economy," whatever the excuse is, it's an excuse, and they can put the onus on the external, and they go merrily on their way and they're okay. Whereas the person who accepts responsibility makes something happen.

John: Bob, I love it. It reminds me of an old sales manager I had. Whenever we had the economy go down, a bit of a recession or whatever, he said, "This is the opportunity. All of our competitors will have that as an excuse. We'll go out and we'll show people how they can be better off in a recessed economy, and we'll win the business," and he was right. Taking the initiative and focusing on that, versus "We've got a real problem, we're not going to make our quota, nobody has got the money to spend."

Bob: I can tell you another story, John.

John: Please!

Bob: In the same vein. I remember, years and years ago, when I first started out in sales I was in real estate, I did it very poorly, I was very young. The owner of the company hired a man, he came into the office, he dressed poorly, had mustard on his tie, very dishevelled, and everybody in the office laughed and thought to themselves, "There's no way this guy is going to succeed." Well, what they didn't know is that he had five children, and a wife he was afraid of, and this man was the first one in, the last one to leave, never held a cup of coffee in his hand and talked to someone at the watercooler or what have you; he was working, and it didn't matter that he spoke in them and those, he just outworked everybody.

John: And the customers would have had a lot or respect for him.

Bob: Yes, and he made things happen. And everybody got fooled, and then they all ate crow.

John: A couple of really good stories there. Let's just remind everybody the take-home message, that you all can control your destiny, you all have the ability to take initiative. When things are going wrong, you can manage it; we've just got to take that initiative, and we'll win.

Bob: And if you're blaming some external force, that's absolute nonsense.

John: Nonsense. Bob, I'm really going to love this series of discussions with you, I'm looking forward to the next one. Let's cut this one at that, come back soon and we'll have another one!

Bob: Love it - we're having a good time!

John: Okay. Take responsibility, take initiative - thank you very much, good to have you, Bob!

Bob: Thank you, John!


Also by Bob Terson:

"Selling Fearlessly"



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