As I’m leaning on the stand-up desk in my makeshift home office, that over the weeks has been turned into a video and podcast recording studio, I begin to reminisce over my years in business, with aching legs wondering what is wrong with a sit down desk and why I always need a pee?
It’s the 11th May 2020, I’ve been here for nearly 8 weeks of lockdown, with fluffy overgrown hair and a scruffy beard, writing blogs, articles, recording videos, podcasts, presenting webinars and helping panicking sales teams across the world.
Exactly nine years ago, 11th May 2011 I was sat at a different desk; a dining table in my old house. I was registering 6th Door Ltd with Companies House, taking flight with my idea to help salespeople through the recession that was gripping the world.
As with all business ventures I had my critics, the naysayers, the risk averse commentators, quick with finding their problems to all my solutions. “It’ll never work” “you’re crazy” “terrible time to start a business”. But I had a clear goal in mind mixed with a belief that I could genuinely help people and a strong desire to take my destiny in my own hands. For anyone who is in business for themselves these feelings will be only too familiar.
The premise was simple. To change people’s outcome by changing the language they use – the vehicle to deliver this: Sales training.
I have a lifelong background in sales and helping salespeople, from my early days of door to door canvassing and running market stalls through to FTSE 100 companies and publishing. I know first-hand the power that every word you tell yourself and others has on achieving your goals and creating the reality that you experience. Our paradigm of the world is controlled by every communication we witness and everything we say to ourselves. The water cooler mood hoovers were never successful in sales offices, and the team members who started every proclamation with “the problem is” always had more problems than they had commission. If people can develop and change their inhibiting language and the words they express, they can rapidly change their outcome and their feelings and observations of what is around them. When they master using the right language with prospects and clients, they always get a more positive result.
So, through the recession I went, aware of what I was saying to myself and others. Every problem became a challenge, every “no but” became a “yes if”, and everyone who told me that I “can’t” was abruptly met with a “watch me!” After a time, my reputation grew along with my client base.
After the recession came Brexit. Another golden opportunity for the language of the nation to turn negative and the pity parties began breaking out. Again, I kept focus and upped my resolve to achieve my goals and control my language. I ignored criticism from anyone I would not turn to for advice and was fortunate enough to meet my now business partner in The Sales Dojo, Leon McCowan. In business the company you keep can make the difference to the company you are building and after 5 years flying solo, surrounding myself with positive, driven and fun people has definitely pushed me further.
I started 2020 full of optimism. I’m nine years on from that dining room table and I coach and train salespeople from all four corners of the world. I’m a Fellow of the ISM, I teach sales skills at The University of Liverpool, I write blogs and magazine articles, create video content for YouTube, we’ve recently launched The Sales Dojo Podcast and our Sales Dojo events attract attention from around the globe. 6th Door Ltd delivers tailored sales training programmes to businesses from every sector imaginable and I’ve helped over 10,000 sales professionals hit their targets and earn their bonus. All by helping people learn to love language, play with the words they use and flip their mindset to one of possibility and gratitude.
Then, from nowhere, came a global pandemic – you could not write it! Businesses shut their doors, the economy nosedived, millions of workers furloughed or jobless and of course the unthinkable loss of life and grief.
Through this darkest of times an amazing thing has happened – people’s language has changed. Recently our paradigm of ‘key workers’ has shifted wildly – we cheer and clap for binmen, shop assistants, trolley pushers at supermarkets and of course our glorious NHS. The press and social media we consume have changed their language, and along with it we have changed our realties. What only a few months ago seemed impossible; working from home, not using public transport, becoming an NHS volunteer (over 1 million people signed up) and cheering and praising workers on the front line has had a seismic shift on our perceived reality, of our values and priorities. The world has changed but along with that so has the language we describe it with. Working parents are now home schoolers, we love a dog running in on a business video conference because ‘being real’ is now a sought-after commodity, and we refer to NHS workers as ‘heroes’. We ask our neighbours if they’re OK? And we really mean it. We say thank you to the guy on the till in Asda – and we really mean it. This attitude of gratitude and new vocabulary has changed how we feel about the world around us and our change in language will give us a positive change in outcome.
We will get through this, and when the tears have dried and the Nightingale hospitals have shut their doors for the final time it is how we communicate with each other that will pull us through. Let’s keep asking each other if we’re ok, let’s keep talking in “yes ifs” and not return to “the problem is”. Let’s continue referring to NHS staff as heroes and clapping the binmen, let’s make our “can’ts into cans” and our “dreams” into “plans”
Nine years on, a recession, Brexit and a global pandemic, what have I learnt about running a business? My advice (not that anyone wants advice) is be aware of your words because they become your reality, keep an eye on the company you keep because they become the company you run, along with our amazing NHS be the hero in your story and get a sit down desk.
Chris Dawson FISM
Director – 6th Door Ltd and The Sales Dojo