The First Step Towards Sales Mastery: A Public Commitment


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Decades ago when I was teaching Miller Heiman programs, I was asked back a year later to give a key note. Before my presentation, a guy came up to me and said, “You know, Strategic Selling is an amazing program.” I told him I was glad he felt that way and asked why he thought so. His reply, “The only time it doesn’t work, is when I don’t use it.”

“Wow, powerful endorsement. How often would you say you use it?” His response, “Eh, maybe half the time.” I’ve told this story countless times, big sigh at the end, people laugh appropriately, what a clown.

Same thing could be said for CRM, marketing automation, sales training, presentation skills, and all the other amazing technologies and methodologies that have proven results when people consistently use them! And yet, user adoption of all these valuable resources hovers around 50%; what gives?

Starting this column comes as a new chapter is starting for me, personally/professionally. Having started a company, been acquired and, now, free to begin a new chapter, I’m once again, thinking about new goals and objectives. What’s next?

I’ve been reading more posts, articles, papers, for things to share, retweet, socialize. I’ve been constantly impressed at how little is new, breakthrough, or compelling. It feels as though we’re all breathing our own — or one another’s — exhaust.

Then it hit me: I’m that guy (the clown rep)! As I start this next chapter, I’m thinking about new goals, objectives, visualization, meditation, etc. ALL things I’ve done before, that have worked before, and that I then stop doing.

If these methods are so useful, have gotten me what I wanted, why am I not doing them consistently, continually, all the time? Am I so successful I don’t need/want to? (no) Am I fully self-actualized and see the folly of materialism and seeking? (no) Am I a lazy piece of human excrement? (hopefully, no)

Then what?

Public Accountability

And what I came up with is lack of public accountability. Weight Watchers has built a successful business with a 45-year history, by having weekly public meetings and private “weigh-in’s.” Group members share experiences, strategies, successes and challenges. Individuals keep record of their progress. I want to double down on this model by both declaring, and having others declare, what it is we intend to improve and, in effect, hold public weigh-in’s by reporting monthly progress.

If I publicly declare to readers of this column (again, hopefully, more than just me!) what my goals and objectives are, my measures of success, and my action commitments and deadlines for doing so, then I’m much more committed than if I just write it in my journal.

Self-public-shaming? Maybe. Why is my level of commitment higher to a crowd I don’t even know, than to myself? I don’t know but, is there something powerful/worthwhile here to find out?

Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi, Brandon Burchard, and many others have inspired thousands, maybe millions, of faithful followers. The story is often the same: I was nobody special (read: loser, just like you are now), then I turned my life around and am somebody (read: RICH!). In this seminar, webinar, program, whatever, I’m going to share with you how I did it. Then you can go out and become somebody, too.

And people go, and many do — for a while — and then they fall off the wagon again, into mediocre nobody specialism. We’re all that (clown rep) guy!

What thing have you done that worked well that you aren’t doing consistently?

I believe it’s because we lose our commitment AND because there is NO penalty for doing so.

For this reason, I want to test this by not trying stuff for 2 years, seeing what amazing results I obtain and then offer to teach it to others. I plan to share the journey from the beginning. To say what my objectives are, to declare publicly what my goals, objectives, actions, success measures are, and report on my progress monthly.

However, I’m also going to invite others to do the same. I’m inviting YOU to join the Sellers’ Challenge. To declare whatever it is you want to improve, and have you declare publicly what you’re going to do to get there. Two years from now, we can ALL teach a seminar but, even better, we’ll have been the seminar—teacher/guru and audience. I’m hoping to create a community of people sharing their goals and holding themselves accountable to a community that supports one another’s growth.

If it gets traction, and if community members get results, then maybe it’ll grow and become self-stoking, and two years from now members will be alive, and energetic, and doing things they know improve their performance all the time—because it’s become part of their lifestyle, their make-up, their gig. And they won’t just do it, eh, maybe half the time.

Bullshit on that! Bullshit on maybe half the time! Let’s ignite this thing (or as the astronauts used to say, “Let’s light this candle”)!

Getting Started

I want to share with you, what I simply call “The Wheel” exercise (see graphic).

Action: Cut & paste the graphic below or simply draw your own.


This is easily the most valuable thing I ever got off a cocktail napkin. And let me just say, I’ve gotten a LOT of things off cocktail napkins! But this one has stuck with me and is a quick check-in. Here’s how it works. On a scale of 0-10, rate yourself on how you feel you’re doing in each category. There is no standard definition, though each month I’ll discuss a specific segment. Just use your own internal gauge to score how you currently feel you’re doing I each segment.

If 0 is the center of the wheel and 10 is out on the circumference, 5 would be halfway. I’ve rated myself on each segment as of 9/08/17 (see below).

  • Professional: 8
  • Financial: 7
  • Physical: 7
  • Social: 6
  • Spiritual: 5
  • Family: 4

Action: Rate yourself in each area, then color in each segment (see below).

bt_wheel_rating2 Imagine this “wheel” is rolling along the time of your life. How’s the ride? Most folks will say, “bumpy!”

This isn’t about maxing everything out to 10 but, rather, getting in balance. For me, right now, that looks like maybe shooting for 7 in each segment. This graphically gives meaning to the expression, a “well rounded” individual.

The past 2 years, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to work (since CSOi was acquired) and did a LOT of travel. My plan is to travel less and expand my online/social presence more.

In next month’s column I’m going to pick my Professional segment to identify and declare a specific improvement goal.

Action: think about which segment you want to pick an improvement goal.

Next month we’ll both get started together, though, of course, you can pick and get started sooner! And if you want to share your pick, comment on this column or have other thoughts about why we fall off the commitment wagon, please be in touch (comment section below or email me).

Barry Trailer
Barry has been involved in complex B2B sales for over 30 years and is intrigued with how it's changed/changing and what this means to Sales as a Profession (SaaP). Salesware, the analytics company he co-founded, was acquired by Goldmine Software in 2000 and his next company, CSO Insights with Jim Dickie, was acquired by Miller Heiman Group in 2015. He has twice been published by, and been a keynote for, Harvard Business Review, and is author of Sales Mastery, a novel.


  1. Hi Barry: I look forward to traveling with you this journey, and will participate by keeping track of my own schema. The variables you have described are important for me to understand, though I recognize that they are inward-facing. Where would ‘giving back,’ or ‘making the world a better place’ fit in? Add another section to the pie?

  2. Thanks for your comments. Andrew, happy to have you join the journey! Next month I’ll publish my own 1st pick and declare it publicly. You can keep track of your own schema but I’m going to encourage everyone to also declare it publicly (if not in this forum, at least to a half-dozen friends) to increase the accountability.

    As for “giving back” and/or paying it forward, you may be able to find opportunities within the existing 6 segments though, of course, you’re free to add a separate “Service” segment. Within an existing segment, you might, as part of your Professional self, want to set aside a percentage of your work week to pro bono activities (e.g., 2 hours/week to mentoring a high-school student or new sales rep); or dedicating a percentage of income to a favorite cause.

    The Spiritual or Social aspects of self could also present an opportunity to be of service to “making the world a better place.”

  3. Dave, thanks for reading and commenting. The ride will be smoother–until we hit some “bumps,” which are also part of the journey. But it’s ALL good. Let’s do this thing!

  4. Hi Barry – great article!

    I really enjoy finding simple ways of showing or describing more complex things, so the way you have the third wheel drawn and the comment : “Imagine this ‘wheel’ is rolling along the time of your life. How’s the ride? Most folks will say, ‘bumpy!’” really hit the mark for me. Excellent! Very powerful!

    I also like the “public declaration” approach that change focused organizations tend to use. I also notice that many of them also include a coaching/support group element which I think is a great way to keep things on track.

    Great post! Looking forward to rest!

  5. Hi Krista,

    Thanks for your comments and looking forward to your participation (you are going to participate, yes?). My apologies for the delayed reply, I was off the grid last week and just now catching up.

    This forum will be our public place for declaring intentions. Maybe the comments will become part of coaching/support or, maybe, individuals will develop a separate/personal support system.

    Either way, “looking forward to the rest” with you, too!


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