Coming out of a comfort zone is rarely easy. But, if you want to grow as a salesperson, it’s necessary. Unfortunately, many sales reps don’t want that discomfort and stick with the same old style and strategies. “What creates consistent growth of productivity? There has to be discomfort involved psychologically physiologically, biologically — it's gotta be there in order for things to grow,” explains Manage Smarter podcast guest Bill Eckstrom, who is founder and CEO of EcSell Institute. In episode 153, Eckstrom discusses this importance of pushing oneself beyond the comfort zone in sales.
The worry about discomfort will keep many reps from doing this, and Eckstrom acknowledges that no, shifting how you do things won’t always be comfortable. “When you get uncomfortable about something, you tend to want to make it comfortable and run away from [those] feelings of discomfort,” he says But, that’s a mistake. “Nobody says, ‘yeah, I really grew a ton when I had nothing to do, when I just kind of sat around and cruised for awhile.’ Nobody ever talks about that,” he adds. He encourages listeners to embrace the discomfort, the challenges and the uncertainty because “it's the only environment where growth occurs.” SalesFuel’s CEO C. Lee Smith agrees, adding that “The magic happens outside the comfort zone.”
Comfort zone: What is it?
If you feel like you have been lulled into complacency and missing some “magic,” there are ways to get yourself moving. In an article for Small Biz Trends, Lisa Price also explains the importance of challenging oneself by escaping the comfort zone. First, she defines what exactly a comfort zone is:
“A comfort zone is a place where you feel comfortable and your abilities are not being tested. In other words, comfort zones are comfortable, safe ways of existing and working, usually in a set routine.”
Then, drawing on her own experiences, she shares nine ways that reps can ease themselves outside their comfort zone. Her suggestions range from physical tasks to thoughtful shifts in behavior and mindset.
Tips to make your move
Switch up your routine. Subtle changes in your day-to-day routine can have big impacts, as well as slowly introduce you to doing things differently. A small change such as listening to a podcast instead of your favorite playlist is an easy way to start. There are so many small opportunities for change throughout your day, and embracing them can make you more comfortable with diversifying.
Delegate. Used to doing everything yourself? Switch it up, and go outside your comfort zone, by asking for assistance. Yes, this can be scary because you might not trust a team member to do things exactly the way you like. But, doing so opens up the opportunity to see if there’s another way to get something done. On a similar note, if you don’t have the option to delegate tasks, seek out advice or tips from others. They have their own unique perspective that can shed light on a challenge or issue you are facing. This can be especially helpful if you typically do things only your way and don’t seek others’ input.
Learn something new. Like Eckstrom pointed out, so many people shy away from changes because they’re afraid of discomfort. Get used to being a little uncomfortable by taking up a new hobby or trying out a new type of food. Tiptoe out of your comfort zone by challenging your brain with something new-to-you; this will prepare you for larger steps later.
Do something nice/Volunteer. We are often so busy that it doesn’t seem possible to squeeze in time to consistently help others. But, what better way to leave your comfort zone than going out of your way to help someone? Price reminds us that even the smallest of kindnesses can have a big impact. Plus, making others feel good has a trickle-down effect. Start small (like a simple thank-you note) and see how it feels; you may be surprised at what a difference this change can make.
Face fear. Yes, it’s scary but fear helps us grow and teaches us. Insulating yourself from fear will hinder you. Price suggests thinking of small things that scare you, then choosing one to face head-on. Once you’ve tackled that small fear, go on to a bigger one. Soon, you’ll realize that you have the ability to do scary things! Price uses her own experience of being afraid of public speaking to highlight how much facing that fear helped her overcome her discomfort. “I found that comfort zones were funny things: the things that you feared became things that were at home in the comfort zone,” she writes. “Focus on the best things that can happen if you get to face your fear. Accept that the worst things that can happen may not be all that bad.”
Growth and opportunities await
These and the other tips align with Eckstrom’s insight into how sales reps should absolutely step outside of their comfort zone. While it will be uncomfortable at times, all of the discomfort will be worth it as you grow professionally and personally. Plus, you never know what opportunities can arise. As Price explains, “Embracing new experiences can do more that enrich your life and business career. Those new experiences could change your life and the direction of your career.”