Lateral Thinking: The Key To Crushing Quota

I a firm believer in continuous learning which, “refers to the ability to continually develop and improve one’s skills and knowledge in order to perform effectively and adapt to changes in the workplace. This is a concept my parent’s stressed when growing up and it’s also a fundamental facet to the cultural dynamics at A Sales Guy, Inc.   While I try to at least complete one book per month a, great resource I’ve also added to my learning repertoire are podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts these days is the “The Tim Ferriss Show” which covers a multitude of topics and interviewees such as Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Josh Waitzkin (who was the character behind the movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer).   Tim brought on Josh again for his second episode here, Josh Waitzkin, The Prodigy Returns. This particular episode really struck a chord with me on Josh’s explanation on thematic or lateral thinking. Lateral/Thematic Thinking is modeling behaviors, transferring processes and those behaviors from one learned process to another to influence growth and success. This concept should be considered as a critical element to one’s success in the 21st century.   LateralThinkingDrawing   WHY?   The concept of absorb and apply. I have to give credit to Mark Roberge at Hubspot for coining this phrase in his book, The Sales Acceleration Formula. Absorb and apply is much more than a catchy slogan. Fundamentally it describes someone’s ability to take what they’ve learned, take constructive criticism, take feedback and apply these concepts into improvement and change for the better.   Sales manager’s: how many times have you told the same rep over and over again to stop doing something; or to adjust their technique but at the end of the day you find them getting defensive and sticking to their old habits.   Sales rep’s: Do you consider yourself an, “absorber and applier”? Do you feel that you actively push yourself to continue learning and not only absorb this new knowledge but apply it laterally to other areas of your life? If you just hesitated, even just a bit; then it’s time to make a change for the better and start thinking about success and learning much differently.   The fundamental key to successful lateral or thematic thinking is switching your views of success/failure from feeling you’ve done “good or bad” to instead, understanding what you have learned from failures, and how you will apply these lessons to future opportunities for success. It’s time to think how you can transfer the processes and/or behaviors you’ve developed in being successful in one situation to another goal/aspect of your life.   I know when I was growing up I would receive positive reinforcement in school for my grades, rather than my behaviors and/or actions. I would receive this positive feedback whether I crammed the last minute or spent weeks studying for the same test. An “A” was an “A”.   Wow was this a wake up call when I entered sales! There’s no cramming last minute to make up for the prospecting, researching and cold calls you haven’t made yet. Your quota doesn’t care how much you think you can pull a rabbit from a hat every month. Your quota doesn’t care about your “effort” or how hard of a worker you are. You hitting your number is based on the behaviors, actions and repeatable consistency you make to achieve success. Your sales manager isn’t there to say “you didn’t hit your quota but I know you tried”. Sales is metrics based and at the end of the day when you can’t hit your numbers, you need to change what’s not working or find a new career.   Sales is about consistency, creativity, grit and analytical thinking. All done in congruence with continuous learning and having the ability to filter criticism, feedback and the addition of new knowledge in that catchy phrase of “absorb and apply”.   If these behaviors and ways of thinking don’t describe yourself it’s time to reevaluate your learning and growing process. Otherwise you’re going to find yourself being left behind and in need of a career change.   Thanks for reading! -Max            


Keenan is A Sales Guy Inc’s CEO/President and Chief Antagonist. He’s been selling something to someone for his entire life. He’s been teaching and coaching almost as long. With over 20 years of sales experience, which he’ll tell you he doesn’t give a shit about, Keenan has been influencing, learning from and shaping the world of sales for a long time. Finder of the elephant in the room, Keenan calls it as he sees it and lets nothing or no one go unnoticed.